Earlier this evening, at our Board of Trustees meeting, the SJCC Board passed the resolution below which will link us to other congregations across the country in supporting the Hekhsher Tzedek program which I discussed on Yom Kippur. Hopefully, if enough congregations join us, our movement will be able to have a real impact on the conduct of kosher food producers.
Update 12/11/09: See today’s New York Times for an interesting article on this topic.
SJCC Resolution Supporting Hekhsher Tzedek
Whereas, the Summit Jewish Community Center is committed to encouraging members to perform Mitzvot encompassing ethical and ritual observance; and
Whereas, Kashrut is a core value of our institution and of the Conservative Movement; and
Whereas, we understand that Kashrut teaches reverence for life and humane treatment of animals (See James M. Lebeau, Jewish Dietary Laws: Sanctify Life, New York, NY: United Synagogue of America, Department of Youth Activities, 1983, inter alia); and
Whereas, our institution continues to express its commitment to social justice; and
Whereas, Torah teaches us concerning the rights of workers, as in “The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning (Lev. 19:13) and “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger…You must pay him his wages on the same day…for he is needy and sets his life on it; else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt.” (Deut. 24:14-15) and “Whoever keeps the salary from a worker is as if taking his/her life, and transgresses five negative commandments and one positive command.” (Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 339:2); and
Whereas, Torah teaches us the importance of business ethics as in “You shall not falsify measures of length, weight or capacity. You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.” (Lev. 19:35); and
Whereas, our congregation continues to express its commitment to environmental protection; and
Whereas, reports of worker abuse, animal cruelty and corrupt business practices in a segment of the kosher meat industry have caused a tremendous desecration of God’s name.
Therefore, be it resolved that we stand fully behind the development of a Hekhsher Tzedek to be applied to the kosher food industry; and
Be it further resolved that the congregation supports the work of the Joint Hekhsher Tzedek Commission comprised of representatives of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly; and
Be it further resolved that the congregation supports the development of the Hekhsher Tzedek that will evaluate Kosher food manufacturers in the areas of
- Employee welfare, including fair wages, benefits, health safety;
- Employee training;
- Quality control and animal welfare;
- Corporate accountability and integrity; and
- Environmental impact.