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Jewish Journal

Simple Things (Justice, Decency)

by Aryeh Cohen

April 18, 2013 | 5:34 pm

This week has been the week when we have had to repeat simple truths over and over again.

Nobody should be killed by a bomb while watching a marathon.

Weapons of war should not be in the hands of civilians.

And yesterday I found myself standing with car wash workers outside the Aztec Car Wash in Century City demanding, among other things, that they be allowed to have bathroom breaks in a bathroom and not be forced to pee in a cup and then pour it down a drain. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, peeing in a cup has got to go!” That cringing feeling you just got reading that, is what I was feeling yesterday. It was the feeling that we should be past this. That it should be obvious already that workers deserve reasonable compensation and that they should be treated with dignity.

Martin Luther King went to Memphis on his last fateful trip almost fifty years ago to stand with sanitation workers demanding dignity. They carried signs that read “I am a man.” It is embarrassing that this sentiment is still up for debate.

This week’s Torah portion includes the exhortation: “Be Holy.” Sometimes, it seems, we are not even up to being decent. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, peeing in a cup has got to go.”

Simple statements that we, apparently have to repeat over and over again

“What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Aryeh Cohen the author of the book Justice in the City: An Argument from the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism is a professor, a social justice activist, a rabbi and a lecturer.

He...

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