When it was announced that the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) had signed contracts with Hyatt Hotels for upcoming conventions — including their signature Consultation on Conscience and L’Taken Social Justice Seminars — many who stood in solidarity with Hyatt workers believed it was moment of truth for the Jewish community.
Would the RAC, one of the most prominent and venerable social justice organizations in the American Jewish community, go ahead with their plans to hold high profile conventions in boycotted hotels? Or would they grasp the critical importance of this moment and opt to hold their events elsewhere?
Some background: When they learned of the contracts, concerned Jewish clergy as well as the Hyatt workers’ union, UNITE HERE, formally asked the RAC and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) to honor the recently announced global boycott of Hyatt. Last month, the URJ and RAC met with union leaders and Hyatt employees. They learned that Hyatt summarily fired nearly 100 housekeepers from three Boston-area hotels in August 2009, replacing longtime housekeepers with temps at far lower rates of pay. They learned that Hyatt has been undermining the stability of jobs by increasingly subcontracting their workers. They learned Hyatt has been undermining the safety of jobs by increasing housekeeping workloads to dangerous levels. And they learned that Hyatt has been actively thwarting efforts by non-union hotel workers to exercise their fundamental right as workers to collectively bargain.
After deliberating, the organizations publicized their final decision. In a released statement, the URJ/RAC opened with an affirmation of the Reform movement’s long-time support for unions and the labor movement, dating back to the days of “the historic Jewish garment trade unions.” After laying out an extended description of their deliberation process, they announced their decision: they had “decided not to seek to move the events in question from Hyatt hotels.”
On the subject of stakeholders, it bears noting that J.B. Pritzker, a principal owner of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, has long been a significant donor to the URJ and the RAC. Moreover, as late as 2010 he was listed as a member of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, serving at the Chair’s discretion. While there is no proof that Pritzker had any undue influence on the movement’s decision, this point is certainly germane to any discussion of significant “stakeholders.
Wow, the RAC. Wow.
Homelessness is not a sin, but allowing it is.
Too often, we Reform Jews hand off the standards of Jewish observance to Orthodox Jews. We own them, too.
Hashkiveinu Adonai eloheinu l’shalom
V’ha’amidenu malkenu l’chayyim
Spread the shelter of Your peace over us
Guide us in wisdom, compassion, and trust
Save us for the sake of Your Name
Shield us from hatred, sorrow, and pain
In Mishkan Tefilah, it’s written as “shomreinu” instead of “malkeinu.” I really like that!
I should write a memoir entitled, “Pockets: The Reform Girl’s Guide to Driving to an Orthodox Shabbas Dinner And Pretending Not to Carry.”
Myth #4: It costs a fortune to join a synagogue!
Reform synagogues are committed to every Jew who desires to be part of a congregation. A Jewish sage once said that “the gates of prayer are always open.” Reform synagogues have promised to keep their gates open and inclusive to all. Hand in hand with this idea follows another: that “all Jews are responsible for one another.” That is why synagogue leaders set up a fair dues structure—so that the vital ongoing services and programs continue to serve the entire community.
I don’t know, URJ, the closest shul to me costs minimally twice per month what I spend on groceries. That’s A LOT.