Living the Legacy


Contemporary Jewish Labor Campaigns: The Labor Movement Begins at Home

Unit 1 , Lesson 8

Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

Contemporary Jewish Labor Campaigns: The Labor Movement Begins at Home

Notes to teacher: 

In this lesson, students will learn about two contemporary labor issues that look at labor relations “at home” (both within the home and within the Jewish community) and why and how Jewish organizations are working in solidarity with oppressed workers. Students will use classical Jewish sources, as well as primary and secondary sources, to create contemporary labor “before” and “after” improvisational (improv) scenes. It’s important that students understand that being concerned about and responding to these social problems is not uniquely Jewish —domestic workers and low-paid workers have allies in many different communities. However, as Jews, we and our students can make use of traditional texts to remind us of our responsibility for these problems and their resolution. It’s also important for students to understand that while they themselves may not be victimized workers (although young employees are often subject to worker abuses), they may be witnesses to or beneficiaries of unfair, abusive, and illegal employment practices. For example, the cleaning staff in their school may be paid less than a living wage even if they are paid minimum wage; and the nanny looking after the kids next door may not be given a day off every week.

This lesson will work well in conjunction with Lesson 4, as both lessons look at the role of contemporary Jews as potential allies of workers. In addition, we refer you back to Lesson 2 for materials about origins of Jewish working women in the labor movement.

Additionally, Lesson 2 walks students through the process of writing their own personal work manifestos which will allow them explore their principles and intentions for their work lives. This activity could be a good way to wrap up Lesson 8 and to tie the larger themes and struggles of the labor movement to a piece of students' individual experience.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Living the Legacy - Lesson: Contemporary Jewish Labor Campaigns: The Labor Movement Begins at Home." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <>.