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Rabbi's Week in Review - 9/5/2023

09/05/2023 10:06:51 AM

Sep5

As I write this on Labor Day, I am not thinking about the usual Labor Day stuff — transitioning into the school year (although that starts earlier every year), grilling outside (although in 90-plus heat, no one seems to be doing it this year), and not heading out to my mailbox for the mail that is not there. This year on Labor Day, I am actually thinking about those who labor — the workers.

A few thoughts on workers on this day. One comes from a teaching by my father, Zichronah L’vracha, of blessed memory. Simply put, all work has dignity and all work is deserving of respect. I think about this every time I have the honor of attending an action by Stand Up KC, the fight of fast-food and other low-wage workers for a living wage and a union. Many of the local workers who represent Stand Up KC have become international leaders in fighting for the rights of workers to be able to receive a sufficient wage to fully support their families and live decent lives without struggle.

A second thought is about the role Jews have played in the labor-union movement, particularly Jewish women. After the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York, in 1911, wherein many Jewish women died, Jewish women were on the forefront in organizing the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGW).  

Finally, a story carried on CBS News' Sunday Morning addressed the enormous disparity in income between the wealthiest Americans and those at the bottom. We have become increasingly economically polarized. This has the impact of making the middle class, in which I grew up, increasingly obsolete. More and more, there are the top 1 percent with more money than they could spend in 10 lifetimes, and those who have to choose between eating three meals in a day and affording a needed prescription.

Let us honor and lift up workers on this day and in the year to come of 5784. Let us create an environment in which all can make a living by working one full-time job, and live comfortably without the stress that comes when one is not fully and fairly compensated for a hard day’s work.

Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784