Yom Sheini, 22 Tishri 5780
Shemini Azeret Monday, 21 October 2019
Campaigning for a living wage

19th December 2012

Liberal Judaism is playing a leading role in the cross-communal campaign to pay a Living Wage to all public sector workers.

Liberal Judaism's chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich joined Citizens UK to deliver a letter to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, congratulating the Prime Minister on action taken so far and urging him to make the living wage the norm across Whitehall.

The event, which was covered by BBC Newsnight, was also in support of Valdemar Ventura - a cleaner who transferred from Nick Clegg's office by his employer after leaving a letter on the Deputy Prime Minister's desk in support of the campaign. Nick Clegg has since requested his return.

In a speech to Citizens UK, Danny said: "Last week, and for the next three weeks, from the final chapters of the Book of Genesis and the early ones of the Book of Exodus, Jews across the world will read the story of the first Joseph.

"Joseph, in common with many of us, came from a dysfunctional family, and as a result of sibling jealousy, and parental favouritism, was thrown into a pit in the middle of a desert. He was rescued – if that is the right term – by human traffickers – those people who trade in the lives of others – and Joseph found himself an enslaved foreign worker in an alien land, namely Egypt.

"The Biblical story tells us that his employers took advantage of his vulnerable status and he was soon in prison. His innate skills, and according to the Biblical story, the intervention of God enabled him to earn his freedom and by the end of his life he was the second most influential person in the land, the Minister of Corn, or Prime Minister to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

"Jewish tradition asks elsewhere: 'What could one do that would be heroic?’ It suggests, for example, making a friend of one’s enemy, or learning from every person.

"The story of Joseph perhaps reminds us that the most heroic person would be one who enables the foreign worker, the marginalised person to become a legal resident. But not merely a national, but the first Minster of the land.

"Thus, rather than cleaning the desk of the Deputy Prime Minister, Valdemar Ventura will be sitting at the desk of the Deputy Prime Minister.

"Jews are in the midst of the festival of Chanukkah, meaning rededication and light. May these festivals of Chanukkah and Christmas and the Campaign for a Living Wage bring light where there is darkness and hope where there is despair."

See a report about the event on Newsnight here: