A Prayer for Justice on the Occasion of another Round of Negotiations- Unify Your Voices and Set Your Minds on Justice

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Opening Prayer | Unite Here Local 11 and Local Hotel Reps | Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels | Rabbi Emeritus, Beth Shir Shalom, Santa Monica

Within the All-Embracing, the All-Encompassing, the Grand Connectedness, the Interbreathing-of-Life, we feel ourselves interwoven into the Endless Possibilities and the enduring strength of the Universe. We know that when we unify our voices and shout with clarity of purpose and our minds set on justice, si se puede – we can do this.

The Jewish community members and supporters of these workers will celebrate the end of the Torah reading cycle this week by reading the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the Book of Gensis. What do those stories hold?

In Deuteronomy we read of conclusions: the conclusion of the Jewish people’s 40-year journey in the Sinai wilderness, the conclusion of the lives of the generation that experienced the Exodus from Egypt firsthand, including their leader and teacher, Moses, and the conclusion of the theoretical articulation of social rules and order. Now, it would all be in practice every day as the Jewish people shifted from being nomads into farmers and ranchers. The gift amid all these conclusions, is finally reaching the Holy Land, the Land of Milk and Honey! At last, the Jewish people would be identified like other nations – with a place they call home.

And the beginning of the Book of Gensis? What does it offer us? – Of course, it is the creation of all the components the Earth and the Universe in which it resides, the creation of the life-giving physical elements of the planet – air, water and soil. Out of this triangle of sustainability, would come creatures large and small, including human beings, that all contain the same spark of divinity, all part of the energy that never ends, but just changes form. As Joni Mitchell taught us, “We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon.”

As we gather here today, we celebrate all that potential and pledge to use every ounce, every breath, every molecule of it in our struggle for justice for hospitality workers. Our hope for these workers, part of the Beloved Community as are the hotel negotiators part of the Beloved Community, is that they will reach their Holy Land, their Milk and Honey. Milk, a life-sustaining liquid and Honey, a little sweetness. These workers deserve jobs that have living wages and benefits that will give the “milk” of a basic decent life. And honey, everyone deserves a little sweetness. What do these workers ask for? Not to swim in wealth but have enough elbow room in their lives that they can take a day or two to spend with family and friends, not have to choose between clothing and food for their children or decent housing and healthcare.

In whatever way you pray, let’s all take a quiet moment to push out our energy into the Universe, the energy of respect and dignity for the workers gathered here and all over the city as picketing and negotiations continue. May they align with the strength of the Universe itself and all its Creative Power so that they will have the fortitude and the stamina to make it to the Holy Land of decent contracts that honor their work and their humanity. Let’s take that quiet moment now. May it be so.

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