Work, workers and the Jewish owner

By Jill Jacobs

Rabbinical Assembly of America (RA), May 2008


Jewish communities in general, and Conservative Jewish institutions in particular, generally attempt to live our values in the ways in which we care for members of our communities, in our choices about how to spend time and money, and in other aspects of our communal lives. Low-wage workers are also members of our communities. Maintenance staff, whom we pay directly or hire through contracting companies, keep our buildings clean; security personnel ensure our safety; and food service staff make our dinners and kiddushes run smoothly. Many members of our community also own or manage businesses that employ low wage workers in service, production, or other roles. If we are to live our values in our business practices, we should look to halakhah for guidance in determining how much to pay these employees, how to treat them, and how to approach unionization issues.

This teshuvah serves as a guideline for Conservative institutions to make such decisions in regard to their own employees, and also for Conservative Jews to think about integrating their Jewish practice with their workplace practices. In particular, it asks what are the obligations of Jewish owners to workers paid by the hour? Specifically, should employers pay these workers a living wage? Should Jewish owners prioritize hiring union workers in unionized industries? Do employers’ obligations change if workers take additional jobs?


Topic: Halakha, Jewish Law, Masorti Judaism, Salary, Policy, Workplace, Conservative Judaism, Employment, Values, Compensation, Jobs, Labor, Unions

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Genre: Responsum

Coverage: North America

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Jacobs, Jill. Work, workers and the Jewish owner. Rabbinical Assembly of America (RA). May 2008:


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