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On average, American women currently make 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of color: African American women make 62 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, Native women make 57 cents, and Latina women make 54 cents. Urge Congress to end this disparity by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Jewish tradition has long recognized the importance of paying fair wages. Leviticus 19:13 commands that, “You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning.” Judaism also teaches that pay equity is more than solely a "women's issue." It is a labor, civil, and human rights issue as well. In a society that places so much emphasis on the idea that hard work leads to success, paying women less than their male counterparts signals that their work is worth less, and, as a result, that they are worth less.  The Talmud reiterates the connection stating “one who withholds the wages of a hired laborer, it is as though they take their soul from them" (Baba Metzia 112a).

  • Unfortunately, salary data from Reform Movement associations and affiliates reveal that Reform institutions are not immune from this societal problem. The Reform Pay Equity Initiative (RPEI) aims to address the gender wage gap in our community by developing comprehensive tools and strategies for congregations, camps, and Reform movement affiliates to use. RPEI is coordinated by Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) and the Women’s Rabbinical Network (WRN), with participation by all the arms of the Reform Movement. Visit the RPEI website to learn more.

 

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Parashat Ki Teitzei

September 7, 2022
In this parashah, we are simply and directly commanded to pay our workers. We are compelled to pay the people who work for us in a timely manner because they rely upon those wages to take care of themselves, their families, and even their communities. Nachmanides, the medieval sage known as Rambam explains, “For if you do not pay him immediately when he leaves work, he will starve and die that night.” While that may feel like an extreme example of what might happen in our 21st-century world, it is not so far-fetched when we look deeper into the inequalities of our employment systems, particularly in the United States.