Economic Justice

Description

Judaism teaches that helping fellow human beings in need, tzedakah, is not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness, and justice. The Reform Movement has always acted upon fundamental Jewish ideals by advocating for children, the poor, the disenfranchised, the elderly, the sick, those with disabilities, and the "stranger among us."

Why Should Jews Care About Economic Justice?

​​​​​​Deuteronomy 15:7-10 teaches of our societal commitment to helping those in need: "If there is a needy person among you...do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need." Whether someone is experiencing hunger or homelessness, is in need of clothing or medical care, we do not help them because they have met a certain standard of worthiness in our eyes. We help them because no one deserves to be hungry or homeless.

Take Action

Urge Congress to Pass a Living Wage

The cost of living in the United States has long eclipsed the minimum wage. At $7.25 per hour, an employee who is working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, earns only $15,080. An increase to the minimum wage is imperative if we expect people to be able to support themselves with a full-time job. It's time that our federal minimum wage becomes a living wage. Urge your member of Congress to support the Raise the Wage Act.

Support Paid Family and Medical Leave

As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers are staying home to care for themselves, for children whose schools are closed, and for family members who are ill or at high risk. While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201 in the 116th Congress) provided some workers 10 emergency paid sick days and 12 weeks of emergency paid leave to care for children out of school, the majority of workers were not adequately covered, and paid leave provisions expired at the end of 2020. Urge Congress to pass the FAMILY Act (S. 248/H.R. 804) to provide paid family and medical leave for all workers in America.        

Tell Congress to End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1065) would require employers to provide reasonable, temporary accommodations to pregnant workers so that they can remain in the workforce throughout their pregnancies.

Urge Congress to Support an Equitable Economic Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep-rooted economic and racial injustices in American society. Years of underinvestment in caregiving, health care, and other aspects of the social safety net laid a shaky foundation for the country’s pandemic response, intensifying its impact on Communities of Color and marginalized communities that have suffered the greatest consequences. 

Related Issues

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Small boy holding empty bowl signifying hunger

Hunger

Hunger is an endemic problem that plagues all aspects of our society. Despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, 1 in 9 Americans (more 40 million individuals)—including over 11 million children—live in households that are food insecure.

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People experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles

Housing and Homelessness

The Reform Jewish Movement has repeatedly called attention to the need to increase the availability of affordable housing and provide the means for people experiencing homelessness to make the transition from shelters and streets to stable homes.

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People standing on a bridge at dusk holding signs that spell out "Raise the Min Wage"

Living and Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is the absolute minimum amount a person can earn. Yet, at $7.25 per hour, an employee who is working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, earns only $15,080.

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Aerial view of two individuals working together on computers surrounded by coffee and other technology

Labor

The Jewish people, and the Reform Movement, have deep historical ties to the labor movement. To this day, labor unions remain one of the best ways to ensure workers receive the compensation, benefits, and safe working conditions they need.

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Reform Judaism's Positions & Resolutions on Economic Justice

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions View Other Reform Judaism Resolutions

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learning books

What's New

Rhode Island Congregation Helps Win Two Anti-Poverty Laws

June 15, 2021
For years, the Social Action Committee at Temple Sinai in Cranston, Rhode Island, did things like making sandwiches for hungry people — and we do believe that such relief programs are important — but we also wanted to really speak up for the poor. To do more than treat the symptoms of poverty, we decided to take action on poverty’s root causes.

Related Press Releases

Engage Your Congregation

Caring for the Most Vulnerable

Use our Jewish Texts for Reflection & Action resource to learn more about the Jewish underpinnings of caring for the most vulnerable.

"The Monthly Juggle"

Use “The Monthly Juggle”, an interactive poverty simulation that teaches about economic justice. Our budget worksheet and playing cards are ready to print.

Yom Kippur Hunger Study Guides

Adapt our Yom Kippur Hunger Text Study Guides to your congregation’s needs. Download the guide on Fasting to Avoid Hunger and Feeding the Hungry.

 

Contact our Legislative Assistants

For more information on this issue, contact Courtney Cooperman.

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