The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
One of my favorite aspects of Shabbat is the opportunity to pray for all those in need of healing. The Mi Shebeirach prayer is our community’s way to ask for strength in the face of adversity. But the Mi Shebeirach is not the end of our duty to the sick. We are also tasked with performing Bikur Cholim, or visiting the sick. Bringing soup to someone who is sick, or even just calling to say hello, are important steps for strengthening our community. The connection between the Mi Shebeirach and Bikur Cholim is one that exemplifies many important aspects of faith: requesting strength through challenges, while simultaneously taking action to improve the conditions by which we are surrounded.
At the end of last month, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule, summarized here, that expands paid sick leave for 1.15 million employees under federal contract. The announcement comes after a year of reviewing comments from important stakeholders on the issue. The new policy will not only be an important step forward for employees under federal contract, but will also send a signal to all employers about the importance of paid sick leave. This signal will help build on years of progress that have improved the lives of millions of Americans already. Since 2009, 10.6 million more private sector workers have gained access to paid sick leave.
The policy is important for workers and employers alike. Workers benefit when they have the opportunity to care for themselves or a family member. Employers similarly benefit from having workers who are able to work productively, and are not hampered by a lingering sickness. Businesses do not have worry about sickness spreading throughout an office when their employees can take time to mend. This is particularly important for businesses that deal with customers on a day to day basis. One survey suggests that half of food service workers have gone to work sick because they have no other option.
Paid sick leave is a public health issue as much as a labor issue. Children benefit when they have someone to care for them if they have to stay home from school. Additionally, the DOL rule, like many paid sick leave policies, ensures that survivors of sexual assault are given time to seek the medical, legal and psychological help they desire.
The need for healing is constant. Unfortunately, sickness will continue to plague many of those around us. But that does not mean that we are left victim to current conditions. Paid sick days are a way to ensure that people can take the time they need to feel better--for themselves, for their families, and for those with whom they work. The Healthy Families Act would guarantee the right to paid sick days to millions more. Take action and urge your Members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act to set a national standard for sick days in the United States.
This action is one way we can live the words of the Mi Shebeirach, by creating a community in which we work together to heal and be healed.