Rabbi Renée Bauer’s Invocation for the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Biennial Convention
August 30, 2016
Good morning, my name is Rabbi Renée Bauer the director of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin. It is a pleasure to be here this morning among such a great crowd of union brothers and sisters.
I want to share with you a teaching from my Jewish tradition. A sacred book in Jewish tradition called the Ethics of the Fathers says, “Ten people who sit together and discuss the holy scripture, the Divine Presence among them.” Ten is the number in Jewish tradition that defines community and this text teaches that when ten people come together in holy purpose God is with them.
Whether or not we believe in God we can all learn from this holy text about the importance of community. We learn that there is power in working and being together in community. You, who are dedicated union members and staff, know the importance of community. In our state, in particular, and our nation, in general, there is increasing anger and vitriol toward unions. Despite this rhetoric, you continue to stand strong together because you know the power of workers coming together in solidarity to work for a common purpose.
There is even more we can learn from the text I shared about our work together. It does not say that God is present any time ten people are together but when ten people are sharing sacred ideas and words. So too when you come together to do business together, your power comes from being respectful and constructive with one and other even when issues are difficult.
So I pray for you this morning that on this last day of your gathering you feel the power and the holiness that exists in coming together in this communal setting. And I pray that when disagreements arise they are resolved respectfully and debate is only had for the purpose of the greater good. Together may you bring justice to the workers of this state and may you be blessed in your efforts to do so.