JFREJ and T’ruah Leaders Statement Supporting Excluded Workers

לֹא־תַעֲשֹׁ֥ק שָׂכִ֖יר עָנִ֣י וְאֶבְי֑וֹן מֵאַחֶ֕יךָ א֧וֹ מִגֵּרְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּאַרְצְךָ֖ בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃
You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land.

As our calendars turn to the retelling of our collective liberation story, our hearts turn to the hundreds of thousands of community members on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic who are fighting for their own liberation this year. Undocumented workers and individuals recently released from incarceration are disproportionately likely to be working in essential jobs, yet they have also been blocked from receiving even a single penny in Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or stimulus relief.

The New York Legislature is close to finalizing its budget, and over 200 organizations across the state have come together to propose a simple solution to this humanitarian crisis: create an Excluded Workers Fund to provide flat-rate monthly subsistence income, pegged to what a typical low wage worker can receive in Unemployment, for these workers who have been completely excluded from relief.

Jewish text on supporting the dignity of workers is clear. The Torah teaches, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land.” (Devarim 24:14) As we prepare to celebrate Passover and the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, we are keenly aware of the need to treat workers justly and with dignity. It was the Israelites’ cries under unjust bondage that led God to take notice of them and ultimately brought about their liberation – we see these workers in the tradition of our ancestors and call on all those with power to lessen their burden.

These workers have been essential to our survival this year, and now it is our turn to rise in solidarity with them.

Rabbi Renni Altman
Rabbi Guy Austrian
Rabbi Esther Azar
Rabbi Andy Bachman
Cantor Chanin Becker
Rabbi Shelley Kovar Becker
Rabbi Jonathan Blake
Rabbi Rena Blumenthal
Rabbi Lester Bronstein
Rabbi Aaron Brusso
Rabbi Yechiel Buchband
Rabbi Donald Cashman
Rabbi Atara Cohen
Rabbi Ayelet Cohen
Rabbi Emily Cohen
Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan
Rabbi Brian Denker
Rabbi Barat Ellman
Rabbi Rachel Esserman
Rabbi Susan Falk
Rabbi Joan Farber
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Brian Fink
Rabbi Adam Fisher
Rabbi Jonah Geffen
Rabbi Bob Gluck
Rabbi Laura Gold
Rabbi Benjamin Goldberg
Rabbi Ilanit Goldberg-Gradess
Rabbi Irwin Goldenberg
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg
Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell
Rabbi Howard Goldsmith
Rabbi Debora Gordon
Rabbi Deena Gottlieb
Rabbi Lisa Grant
Rabbi Katie Greenberg
Rabbi Reuven Greenvald
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Rabbi Hilly Haber
Rabbi Shai Held
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
Cantor Terry Horowit
Rabbinical Student Margo Hughes-Robinson
Rabbi Mark Hurvitz
Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Rabbi Andrue Kahn
Rabbi Juliana S. Karol
Rabbi Leora Kaye
Rabbi Micah Kelber
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Rabbi Douglas Kohn
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie
Cantor Amelia Lavranchuk
Cantor Janet Leuchter
Rabbi Jonathan Lipnick
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
Cantor Abbe Lyons
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Rabbi Jeffrey Marker
Rabbi Roly Matalon
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson
Rabbi Shira Milgrom
Rabbi Joel Mosbacher
Rabbi Linda Motzkin
Rabbi Gail Nalven
Rabbinical Student Preston Neimeiser
Rabbi David Nelson
Rabbi Luciana Pajecki Lederman
Rabbi Shuli Passow
Rabbi William Plevan
Rabbi Deborah Prinz
Cantor Ari Priven
Rabbi Charles P Rabinowitz
Rabbi Max Reynolds
Cantor Judith Ribnick
Rabbi Mira Rivera
Rabbi David Rosenn
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn
Rabbi Jeffrey Roth
Rabbi Rachel Rubenstein
Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein
Rabbi Halina Rubinstein
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay
Rabbi Ari Saks
Rabbi Joanna Samuels
Rabbi Peter Schaktman
Rabbi Burt Schuman
Rabbi Dina Shargel
Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn
Rabbi Andy Shugerman
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner
Rabbi Mia Simring
Rabbi Felicia Sol
Rabbi S David Sperling
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer
Rabbi Brent Spodek
Rabbi Joshua Stanton
Rabbi Joshua Strom
Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Rabbi Pamela Wax
Rabbi Jay Weinstein
Rabbi Jenn Weinstein
Rabbi Simkha Y Weintraub
Rabbi Nancy Wiener
Rabbi Tzemah Yoreh
Rabbi Lina Zerbarini