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September 4, 2017 / Rabbi Laura

Remember the Laborers

Today, September 4, 2017 is Labor Day in the US. This day is most often celebrated with BBQ, last days of summer, picnics and swimming pools, playing on the beach.  In the Jewish calendar today is 13 Elul, 5777, the month before our Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

Elul is a time for reflection on themes related to the Jewish High Holy Days.  At this time each year, friend and colleague Rabbi Phyllis Sommer assists us with this reflective work by suggesting a theme for each day in the month of Elul. Today, 13 Elul = Remember.

Here in #FresnoCounty today, I am remembering the true laborers of our community: those who toil in the fields and orchards, on the ranches and the processing plants in order for the rest of us – across this great nation – to have food delivered to our markets and to put on our tables to eat in comfort.

If Fresno County were a state, it would be the POOREST state in the US.  While some government officials here in the #centralvalley earn 6 figure salaries, those who work in our fields are living at the poverty level, lucky if they can earn $15,000 a year.

As a Jew, as a person of faith, I often say a blessing before I eat a meal.  I thank God for bringing me bread, food, sustenance.  This blessing – Ha’Motzi – if one of the first blessings a young person learns to recite.  The practice of reciting a grace before meals is something many faiths share.

Yet, it is not only God who brings us this sustenance. Shouldn’t it be incumbent upon us to also remember and offer blessings upon those who labored to grow and harvest this food?  Once upon a time, most people probably did grow and harvest and prepare their own food.  That is not the case anymore – except for some of my farmer friends (you know who you are!).

So, on this Labor Day, on this 13th day of Elul, in which we engage in the act of remembering, I offer this additional prayer to the words of the traditional Jewish blessing before eating.  Perhaps we can all add these words into our daily prayers of thanks and gratitude for the food we eat.

.ברוך אתה יי אלוהינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מין הארץ

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

מישביך אבותינו ואמותינו מברך את האנשים שעובדים בסדות בפרדסים ובביתי חרושת להביא לנו את האכל הטרי  . והבריא הזאת

Mishebeirach avoteinu v’imoteinu, m’varech et ha-anashim she’ovdim b’sadot, b’pardasim, u’b’beitei-charoshet l’havi lanu et h-ochel ha’tari v’ha-bari ha’zot.

May the one who blessed our fathers and mothers bless the people who work in the fields and in the orchards and in the factories in order to bring to us this fresh and healthy food.

One Comment

  1. Marilyn / Sep 4 2017 3:34 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you.

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