December 18, 2014 · 26 Kislev

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450+ Rabbis, Rabbinical Students Call for Federal Minimum Wage Hike

WASHINGTON, DC – Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) sent a letter today to Congress, signed by more than 450 rabbis and rabbinical students, calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

The signatories represent geographic and denominational diversity, including leaders from the Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionst, and Renewal movements.  The letter, which was sent today to every Member of Congress (see attached), included the following:

The medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides taught that the highest level of tzedakah (righteousness) is reached when we help someone stand on their own two feet. As religious leaders, we open our hearts and our hands to the poor and ask: How can we create a society that promotes economic self-sufficiency, reflecting this teaching? A decent minimum wage is a critical tool in the struggle for economic empowerment and against poverty.

One signatory is Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the Director of Education at JFSJ and an authority on wage issues in Jewish law. “Jewish labor law rests on the assumption that a full time worker shall earn enough to support his/her family,” said Jacobs.  “To begin to realize self-sufficiency for workers as envisioned by Jewish law, we must raise the federal minimum wage.”

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and a signatory to the letters, adds

Today, rabbis across America have taken a stand against injustice. Collectively, we raise our voices to echo what so many Americans already understand: full-time wages that leave workers mired in poverty are irreconcilable with religious values and American ideals. We are proud that so many rabbis and individual Jews have been involved in state, local, and now federal efforts to pass increases in the minimum wage.

Let Justice Roll, a national campaign of more than eighty faith, community and labor organizations including JFSJ and RAC, is simultaneously releasing a complementary letter signed by over 1,000 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders supporting the Fair Minimum Wage Act. (contact: Peter Bermudes, LJR at 781.704.4039)

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