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Saperstein: The enactment of WRFA would ensure that people of faith across the United States and, in particular, members of minority religious communities, are not forced to choose between their religious practices and their jobs.
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Washington DC: February 11th, 2008 - In anticipation of the House Education and Labor Committee's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee hearing on the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter urging Members to support this vital legislation. The full text of the letter follows:
February 8, 2008
Dear Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee,
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, I write to convey our strong support for the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) (H.R. 1431) and to encourage you to attend next week's hearing in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee.
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act will restore the original intent of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, requiring employers to "reasonably accommodate" the religious practices of employees insofar as doing so does not impose an "undue burden" upon the employer. Stories of Jews being fired for refusing to work on the Sabbath, Muslim women losing their jobs over their request to wear a head-scarf, and Sikh-Americans being fired for wearing turbans are regrettably all too common in our society. WRFA serves to prevent such occurrences by requiring employers to accommodate the religious needs of employees.
For decades, the Reform Jewish community has been an unwavering and outspoken advocate for religious freedom. Our historical experience of persecution has taught us not to take the right to free exercise of religion for granted. The enactment of WRFA would ensure that people of faith across the United States and, in particular, members of minority religious communities, are not forced to choose between their religious practices and their jobs.
The hearing for WRFA will take place on Tuesday, February 12th at 2pm in Rayburn 2175. Again, I strongly urge you to attend the hearing and help to secure the passage of this long-overdue legislation.
Rabbi David Saperstein