Jimmy Rothschild's Testimony for Raising the Minimum Wage

Sign up for updates

On June 22nd Jewish Community Action brought four testimonies to the floor of the Minneapolis City Council calling for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour. We wanted to share these powerful testimonies with the community as we continue to call for a livible and sustainable wage. Below is JCA Member Jimmy Rothschild's testimony.

My name is Jimmy Rothschild. I live in Ward 3.

I’m here today with Jewish Community Action to tell you how I know that the Jewish tradition compels us to provide a just and livable minimum wage for all workers.

When I was at Carleton College, I wrote my senior thesis on how Jews navigate ethical problems unique to the contemporary world while still using a traditionally Jewish ethical framework.

Now, this ancient tradition is unsurprisingly silent on minimum wages and tip penalties, but it gives us the tools to figure this out. You've just heard some beautiful lessons we can take from biblical and rabbinic literature on how we treat workers and the poor, but I want to take it a step back.

The rabbis have long held that while we have an absolute obligation to Gd, tradition, and our religious laws, we have an equally absolute ethical obligation to one another -- particularly the most vulnerable among us. An ethical problem cannot be resolved without considering -- at its core -- how it affects our fellow citizens

I love this: a religious tradition telling us that we are just as obligated to our neighbors’ well-being as we are to the divine. To be present for one another to hear the people around us is the solution to our ethical problems. Isn’t that beautiful?

So, we have an ethical problem in front of us today. How do we resolve it? If we look at it, as the Rabbis instruct, with radical empathy and a sense of absolute obligation to one another, if we listen to the folks telling their stories here today -- particularly those from marginalized communities, if we act on the call to be present for them, the choice could not be clearer. We have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure the wellbeing of all Minneapolitans. That obligation compels to provide a livable minimum wage, to implement it now, to enforce it strongly, and to apply it to everyone. We must support one fair wage.  Thank you

Sign up for updates