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First Muslim elected to Congress joins rabbi in living on $21

Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., wants to make a point about food stamps.

Ellison was to be joined at a news conference in Washington, D.C., today by Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. They, and others, plan to live for a week on $21 — the national average for food stamp benefits.

Ellison and others planned to announce a weeklong "Food Stamp Challenge." One of the goals is to raise the minimum food stamp benefit.

Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress. The week that he and Gutow will join the challenge falls during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan and between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

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"I can think of no better way to celebrate Ramadan than by participating in the Food Stamp Challenge," Ellison said in a news release. "And to do so with my brethren in the Jewish community is especially fitting because it underscores poverty does not discriminate. It knows no age or gender, no religion or race."

The Food Stamp Challenge is part of a yearlong initiative on poverty.

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