A Jewish Call for Equal Pay
As two recent college graduates with many friends who are unemployed or working as unpaid interns, we are all too familiar with bleak employment and financial prospects. It’s disheartening to know, though, that even as the economy begins to recover, statistics show that Katharine might still be paid an average of 77 cents on every dollar that Ian makes, simply because she’s a woman. This disparity is widened for minorities.
Paying fair wages is a cornerstone of our Jewish tradition. Leviticus 19:13 commands, “You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of he who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” The current system defrauds women by paying them lower wages for the same work performed by men with similar credentials and making it difficult for those women to effectively fight back. Judaism also teaches that all human beings should be treated equally because they are created b’tselem elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All workers deserve to be paid fairly for the job they perform, regardless of gender.
While we at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism are motivated by our Judaism to ensure equal pay for all, we recognize that this is a broader moral issue. As such, we have joined with 30 other faith-based groups to speak out against this injustice, affirming that “pay equity is a moral issue, one in which our religious beliefs in the fundamental equality between men and women and the dignity of work and fair compensation guide and strengthen our voices.”
Ian Hainline and Katharine Nasielski are 2011-2012 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants. Ian is from Chapel Hill, NC, and is a member of Judea Reform Congregation. Katharine is from Philadelphia, PA, and is a member of Society Hill Synagogue.