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Working Families

A dad holding a newborn child

Of 185 nations, the United States is part of a small group of three, alongside Papua New Guinea and Oman.

Tyler Dratch
family of 4 eating lunch

While the FAMILY Act (H.R. 1439/S.

Tyler Dratch

The (secular) New Year brings new opportunities and new challenges in the world of Jewish social justice. The 114th Congress will convene on January 3, 2015 at noon. As we look towards what 2015 will bring, let’s take a moment to look back at 2014 through 14 RACBlog highlights.

This list is a mix of our most popular blogs or the blogs that represent landmark moments in our programming or observances. Don’t see your favorite blog here? Let us know in the comments!

(This piece originally appeared in the Western Massachusetts Jewish Ledger)

By Rabbi Neil Hirsch
Carol, a congregant at my synagogue, is a 5th grade teacher in the Framingham public schools who has recently gotten into the habit of glancing at her watch at 11:30 AM. That’s when the requests to go to the nurse begin. Why 11:30? Why like clockwork? That’s when the Tylenol wears off for her students who come to school sick. Their parents, who cannot afford to take a day off to care for their children, gave them Tylenol in hopes of keeping their child’s symptoms at bay. So, Carol sends the children to the nurse, hoping that they’ll spend the day there instead of being sent back to the classroom to be with everyone else because the nurse’s office is at full capacity.

The school cannot send the students home because their caregivers are off at work. Because many parents do not earn sick leave, our school systems are taxed and our workspaces are exposed to illness. Simply put, the fact that many workers here in Massachusetts cannot earn hours of paid sick leave is holding us back as a community.

By Rabbi Matthew Soffer

When I read the language Question 4 (a ballot question to ensure earned sick time in the Commonwealth), and I contemplate how Jewish values relate, I'm drawn particularly to that fundamental paradigm of home vs. exile, which is so central to Judaism. Obviously, the emergence of the State of Israel gave physical, geographical shape to that exile/home binary, but fundamentally we know that exile vs. home is a metaphysical issue. That our tradition demands that we recognize exile when we see it, that we mourn over it, and that we fight to come home.

From the literal exiles of 586 BCE to 70CE, and in the Rabbinic Period when the bayit (the home), the dinner table to be more specific, according to one Talmudic voice, replaced the altar in the Temple: fighting to come home, in our tradition, is "how we roll."

In this season of renewal, Jews reflect on the year past and look forward to a 5775, a year that brings new opportunity. Since the launch of Double Booked this past January, we have identified some of the challenges that working families face today and discussed a wide variety of cultural, social, and policy solutions. The Jewish new year seems a fitting time to reveal the next phase of our Double Booked initiative, which will focus on working with our interfaith partners to lift up good internal employment policies as well as to engage our denominations and houses of worship in federal, state, and local initiatives to pass much-needed policies to support the modern American family.

One such policy is ensuring paid sick days. We are proud to report that the Union for Reform Judaism (which the RAC is part of) offers its employees a generous paid sick days policy. The Union demonstrated its strong support again for these policies in a new resolution that was passed at our 2013 Biennial.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment took effect, granting suffrage to millions of American women to demonstrate that their voices – through their votes – mattered in our democracy. It would take many decades after 1920 to ensure full voting rights for all United States citizens, an effort we are sadly still working on today.

Since the White House Summit on Working Families a little over a month ago, advocates from an exceptionally broad range of organizations, backgrounds, and for us, faith traditions, have been inspired and energized to deeply engage in the necessary work to support the modern American working families.

In the month between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we honor and celebrate parents.

Sarah Greenberg