The flat tax system disproportionately harms poorer residents — particularly Black and Brown communities. The Fair Tax is an important step toward economic justice, and it aligns with core Jewish values.
We are Jewish clergy, leaders, and institutions from across Illinois. We have come together to announce our support for the Illinois Fair Tax and to encourage Illinois voters to vote Yes for the Fair Tax in the upcoming election.
Illinois is one of nine states with a flat tax system, in which residents pay the same percentage of their income regardless of how much they make. This system disproportionately harms poorer residents — particularly Black and Brown communities — as the bottom 20 percent of earners in Illinois shoulder twice the tax burden as the top 20 percent of earners.
This election, voters will determine whether Illinois implements a Fair Tax system, in which residents pay a tax rate that varies depending on their income. Higher-earning residents would pay more, and lower-earning residents would pay less or the same amount. If voters pass the Fair Tax, only those making more than $250,000 per year will pay more, which means that 97 percent of Illinois residents will pay the same or fewer taxes.
As spiritual, religious and cultural leaders in the Jewish community, we feel that the Fair Tax aligns with Jewish values and a commitment to pursuing justice. Our Torah commands us, “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” — Justice, justice shall you pursue. Since the Torah is a concise document, the repetition of the word ‘justice’ is notable. It is not only a value; it is one of our highest values. The way we approach our society must emphasize justice at every level, and we believe the Fair Tax would move us closer to economic justice in our state.
In the High Holiday season, we reflect on our personal transgressions from the past year. We also take account of the ways in which we have acted collectively to neglect those most vulnerable in our communities and in our state. Today, we must not just reflect, but we must work to rectify those failings by working to upend an unjust tax system that has financially devastated our state, leaving our social services decimated, our schools adrift, our health care system pushing its limits, and our communities at a loss for what to do to face these challenges.
The unprecedented economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has further laid bare many injustices. Poor and working-class communities are hit hardest by job loss, lack of health care and housing, and systemic racism. While there has always been a need for more revenue for public services, the need is greater now than ever before. The Fair Tax will generate millions more in revenue each year, which can provide funding for services around public schools, homelessness, and healthcare, and put our state on the path to long-term sustainability.
We hope you will join us in voting Yes for the Fair Tax in the upcoming election.
(Congregation name for identification purposes only. Congregations marked with an * are institutional supporters as well.)
Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein — Avodah National Jewish Educator
Rabbi Shari Chen — Congregation Bene Shalom
Rabbi Paul Cohen — Temple Jeremiah
Rabbi Shoshanah Conover — Temple Sholom of Chicago
Rabbi Deena Cowans — Mishkan Chicago*
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus
Rabbi David Eber — Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Rabbi Laurence Edwards — Congregation Or Chadash (Emeritus)
Rabbi Bruce Elder — Congregation Hakafa
Rabbi Robert Feinberg
Rabbi Capers Funnye — Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken*
Rabbi Scott Gellman — Temple Sholom of Chicago
Rabbi Gary Gerson — Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion (Emeritus)
Rabbi Megan GoldMarche — Base Hillel Lincoln Park, Metro Chicago Hillel
Rabbi Maralee Gordon
Rabbi Suzanne Griffel — Sinai Temple
Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann — Mishkan Chicago*
Rabbi Daniel Kirzane — Oak Park Temple
Rabbi Benay Lappe — SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva*
Rabbi Seth Limmer — Chicago Sinai Congregation
Rabbi Andrea London — Beth Emet The Free Synagogue
Rabbi Jessica Lott — Northwestern Hillel
Rabbi Steven Lowenstein — Am Shalom Congregation
Rabbi Craig Marantz — Emanuel Congregation
Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva — Chicago Theological Seminary
Rabbi Víctor Mirelman — Emeritus at West Suburban Temple Har Zion
Rabbi Fred Reeves — KAM-Isaiah Israel Congregation
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg — National Council of Jewish Women*
Rabbi Isaac Serotta — Makom Solel Lakeside
Rabbi Rena Singer — Temple Sholom of Chicago
Rabbi Michael Weinberg — Temple Beth Israel
Rabbi Rachel Weiss — Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Rabbi Todd Zinn — Chicago Sinai Congregation
Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore
SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva