Adopted November 19, 2020
As Reform Jews, we affirm democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and democracy suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process. Our nation was founded on the value, not always realized, of every citizen having a voice in government through elected officials, after the American Revolution was sparked by the slogan, “No taxation without representation.” (Therefore, since 1993, the CCAR has supported statehood for the District of Columbia.)
In BT Berachot 55a, we read: “Rabbi Yitzḥak said: One may only appoint as leader over a community one who consults with the community and they agree to the appointment.” Centuries earlier, the prophet Jeremiah told the Jewish people living outside of the land of Israel to “seek the welfare of the city to which I [God] have exiled you and pray to God in its behalf; for in its prosperity you shall prosper” (Jeremiah 29: 4-7). We seek the welfare of our country and its citizens, including the 3.1 million citizens who live in Puerto Rico, roughly 2,000 of whom are Jewish, and their right to equal representation in both houses of the U.S. Congress and full participation in our democracy as a State.
The United States has possessed Puerto Rico since the Spanish-American War. Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens without voting representation in Congress or electoral votes for President and Vice-President. Two plebiscites over the years produced plurality support of Puerto Ricans for full statehood. However, because those plebiscites offered several options for Puerto Rico’s status, neither indicated conclusively that a majority of Puerto Ricans prefer statehood.
Congressman Darren Soto, the first person of Puerto Rican heritage elected to represent Florida in Congress, has introduced a bipartisan House Resolution, which calls upon Congress and the President to take action in 2021 if Puerto Ricans vote for statehood.
On November 3, 2020, in accordance with the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which recognizes the territory’s “right to determine its future political status” through plebiscite, the people of Puerto Rico decisively and clearly indicated their support for statehood.
Congress has the ultimate authority to admit new States, in accordance with article IV, section 3, clause 1 of the Constitution:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
- Congratulates the people of Puerto Rico on their plebiscite of November 3, 2020 in support of statehood.
- Urges Congress and the President to act expeditiously to grant statehood to Puerto Rico.
- Reaffirms its 1993 resolution in support of statehood for the District of Columbia.
 Read the full Resolution here: https://soto.house.gov/sites/soto.house.gov/files/documents/SOTO_053_xml.pdf