Paid family leave is important not only for the immediate health of the individual, but also to relieve the stress of the caretaker and to sustain the worker’s economic security during leave. Thirteen percent of families with a new infant enter into poverty within the first month because of the combined effects of a need for increased income and a reduced number of working hours. Three resolutions focusing on weighty current issues will be debated and voted on during next month’s North American Biennial in Orlando. They are all likely to draw considerable debate.

The first focuses on the Reform movement’s continuing fight against discrimination and efforts to bring equality to all. Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People affirms its commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender  identities and gender expressions, urges the adoption and implementation of legislation and policies that prevent discrimination based on gender identity and expression and that require individuals to be treated equally under the law as the gender by which they identify.

In the second, we pay attention to mandatory immunization laws. One of our most sacred commandments is that of pikuah nefesh, the idea that the preservation of life takes precedence over almost all other Jewish laws. This resolution supports mandatory immunization laws, with the only acceptable exemptions being: medical exemptions and religious exemptions, which must be suspended if community immunity is deemed at risk by public health officials.

The third is gaining traction as a matter of economic justice and the maintenance of healthy families: Paid Family Leave. Paid family leave is important not only for the immediate health of the individual, but also to relieve the stress of the caretaker and to sustain the worker’s economic security during leave. Thirteen percent of families with a new infant enter into poverty within the first month because of the combined effects of a need for increased income and a reduced number of working hours. Out of 185 countries reviewed by the International Labour Organization, the United States is one of just two that does not guarantee paid maternity leave, the other being Papua New Guinea. The resolution calls for, among other things, for us to support and advocate for legislation that provides paid family and medical leave, while recognizing that we must also assess the feasibility and impact of any specific proposal. We also call upon our congregations to help build coalitions and advocate for the passage of paid family and medical leave laws. Currently only three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – offer paid family leave. Nine others even have defined family-leave laws.

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