Reform Activists Press Minimum Wage

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 12, 2007, issue of January 12, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

CORRECTION: The print version of this story incorrectly stated that several organizations signed on to the letter supporting a minimum-wage increase. The groups in question do support an increase, but did not sign the letter.

Washington - With the 110th Congress taking up the matters of raising the minimum wage and funding for stem-cell research during its first week, Jewish groups are optimistic about promoting their domestic agenda and about reaching their legislative goals.

The so-called “First 100 Hours” agenda set by the new speaker of the house, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, includes issues that have been of concern to the Jewish community for several years but were at a standstill when Republicans held the majority. Now the Jewish groups are re-energizing their advocacy efforts, sensing a potential breakthrough on a wide range of social issues.

The Reform movement took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for an intense day of lobbying, focusing on a minimum-wage hike and on stem-cell funding.

The movement’s lobbying effort was backed by a letter signed by 450 rabbis and rabbinical students, representing the entire Jewish denominational spectrum, who support the increase of the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15. The letter, organized in conjunction with the Jewish Funds for Justice and sent to all members of Congress, quotes the 12th-century Jewish scholar Maimonides, who said that “the highest level of tzedakah is reached when we help someone stand on their own two feet.”

In addition, several Jewish organizations support a minimum-wage increase, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a public policy coordinating organization that includes the major synagogue movements, several national organizations and more than 100 communities nationwide.

Despite the newfound hope for progress on their domestic agenda, representatives of Jewish groups stressed their dedication to working with lawmakers in both parties. Still, in a possible sign of the shifting political tide and pecking order, the Reform movement’s top official in Washington, Rabbi David Saperstein, was invited by Pelosi to speak last week at her first inaugural event.

A Democratic source said this week that on domestic issues Jewish groups are seen as natural partners since they share the same social concerns. “After all, that is why most Jews vote for Democrats,” the source said.

The Orthodox Union and United Jewish Communities, the national arm of the network of Jewish charitable federations, are sitting out the minimum-wage debate.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.