array(1) { [0]=> int(22) }

Archive for : Labor

Weekly Torah: Parshat Vayakhel 5771

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was guest writer and dvar tzedek alumna, Rachel Farbiarz.

In Parshat Vayakhel the Children of Israel built the Tabernacle. The project demanded of Israel formidable helpings of both creative energy and generosity. In the punishing desert, the people were expected to furnish a marvelous array of gold, silver, bronze, linens, indigo, hides, oils, incense and precious stones. ((Exodus 35: 6-9.)) And from these gifts, they were to carve, spin, cut, rivet, embroider, weave and fashion the Sanctuary’s sacral architecture and furnishings.

That such an effort could be successfully undertaken in the desert was extraordinary enough. That it be executed by a mass of recently-freed slaves—who, while well-accustomed to hard labor, were untutored in skilled craft—is understood as nothing less than miraculous. ((See, for example, Nachmanides on Exodus 35:21.)) This preternatural ingenuity is most plainly embodied in Bezalel, the man specially named by the Almighty to lead the construction efforts. A creative genius, Bezalel was “filled [ ] with a spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in every task.” ((Exodus 35: 30-31.))
Read more

Poetry Competition Honors the Memory of The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Calling all poets, wordsmiths and rhymers: The Forward is sponsoring a poetry contest to remember the tragic fire that engulfed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in lower Manhattan on March 25, 1911. According to their website:

“A century ago, 146 workers – mostly immigrant women – died as flames engulfed the floors where they worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City.” The fire itself was started innocently – a flare up in a scrap bin under a cutter’s table – but, largely due to the neglectful management and unsafe, sweatshop-like conditions of the factory, it led to one of the deadliest industrial incidents in New York’s history.
Read more

Weekly Torah: Parshat Mishpatim 5771

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Dani Passow.

After describing a series of laws dealing with property, damages, injury and other torts, our parsha concludes the section with a final warning: “Do not oppress the stranger; you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ((Shemot 23:9)) Explaining the seemingly odd placement of this verse, Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch, a 19th century German rabbi, writes:

Twenty-four times, whenever, and in every case, where the Torah lays down the law concerning rights of persons and things, the “stranger in the land” is placed under the special protection of the law. The degree of justice in a land is measured, not so much by the rights accorded to the native-born inhabitants, to the rich, or people who have, at any rate, representatives or connections that look after their interests, but by what justice is meted out to the completely unprotected “stranger.” The absolute equality in the eyes of the law between the native and the foreigner forms the very basic foundation of Jewish jurisdiction. ((Commentary on Shemot 1:14))

Read more

Weekly Torah: Parshat Shmot 5771

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Rachel Travis.

“In every generation one is obligated to view him [or her] self as though s/he personally came out of Egypt.” ((Mishnah Pesachim 10:5)) Though we recite these words at the Pesach seder each year, I find them difficult to practice. So too, as I studied Parshat Shmot and read about the descent of the Children of Israel into slavery and their immense suffering under Pharaoh, I struggled to envision myself in their place. As an American Jew, blessed to live in comfort and security and having never experienced true oppression, try as I might, I could not genuinely imagine what it would feel like to be a slave.
Read more

Nominate a Jewish Business Hero for the Yosher Award

A lot of the individuals that get highlighted on this site and others devoted to service, volunteering and social justice tend to be activists. Some even work in the nonprofit field, meaning that their professional lives are devoted to the cause of repairing the world. Of course, their efforts are significant and certainly should be encouraged and promoted. But we should not forget that it is also possible to have a positive impact on society even if you don’t serve food at a local soup kitchen or go on an alternative spring break trip. A businesswoman who acts ethically in her dealings with employees is also fixing up her little corner of the world.

That’s why the Jewish social justice organization, Uri L’Tzedek, is launching a new award campaign – the Annual Yosher Award. This prize will be given to an observant Jewish business hero that treats employees in an ethical fashion. This means that he pays them minimum wage and overtime and maintains a workplace that respects their rights. As we all know, far too many companies, both large and small, fail to do this.
Read more

A Tour of Adamah Fall Projects

This post was submitted by Davida Ginsburg, Fall 2010 ADAMAH fellow.

As the fall Adamah season begins to wind down, I have found it incredibly fulfilling to watch the projects we have begun post-harvest season develop and take on a life of their own. The projects have not only physically transformed the spaces at Adamah, but also they have also changed us. We have cultivated creativity, leadership, and problem solving skills while preparing herb beds on Beebe Hill for Adamah’s new tea line, putting anti-freeze in the greenhouse pipes, raking leaves to create future stores for compost and mulch, and tanning goat hides. While some of these projects may seem rather mundane compared to the glamour of harvesting ripe, juicy tomatoes and karate-chopping leek stems, these activities have illuminated a different kind of splendor: the process of transformation.
Read more