Sperling: INMEX stands at the intersection of the practical and the ethical – helping translate the values we espouse into the actions we pursue.
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Washington, DC, June 28, 2006 – Rabbi Scott Sperling, Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Council addressed the crowd at today’s launch of the Informed Meetings Exchange (INMEX). Sperling praised the resource, saying, “Working with the Informed Meeting Exchange will allow us to more effectively apply our moral values to our practical decisions.” His full statement follows:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, I am honored to join you today for the launch of INMEX, the Informed Meetings Exchange.
INMEX stands at the intersection of the practical and the ethical – helping translate the values we espouse into the actions we pursue. Jewish tradition and Jewish law have long held that morality can not be separated from the realities of the contemporary world.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, we are told of our ethical obligation, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow Israelite or a stranger in one of the communities of your land.” And in the Talmud, our book of rabbinic law and commentary, we are taught that an employee may object to forced overtime – a practical application of the Torah’s mandate. Working with the Informed Meeting Exchange will allow us to more effectively apply our moral values to our practical decisions.
What are the stakes? Last year, the members of the Reform Jewish Movement spent more than $1.6 million on hotels for one single event: the URJ Biennial Convention. 4,500 Reform Jews came to Houston in November, stayed over 10,000 “room-nights” in area hotels, and left a notable economic impact on the city. And this is only one convention, from one institution, in one city. Two other Jewish denominations, the Conservative and Reconstructionist Movements, have also joined INMEX, which means that the vast majority of affiliated Jews in America – not to mention our partners in faith from the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalists, the United Methodist Church, and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation – will be partnering with INMEX to use our hospitality dollars in ways consistent with the ethical mandates of our faith traditions.
The creation of this new and important entity to help us live the principles that underlie our faith has resonated with the Jewish community, and in a powerful way: in addition to three major Jewish denominations, six additional Jewish groups have also signed on to be founding members. For many of us in the Jewish community, it has only been a couple generations since our grandparents and great grandparents arrived in America, a couple generations since they began work in some of the same trades now represented by UNITE HERE.
What made America a land of opportunity for our grandparents? What brought our forebears into middle class? What brought them acceptance? It was the ability to negotiate for a better tomorrow. To have a place at the table. To organize for fairness and for respect. INMEX will help the men and women working today in the hospitality industry climb the economic ladder, achieve the power they rightfully deserve and build a future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren. Together, we will fulfill the promise of America for a new generation.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.