NCJW CEO Sheila Katz Speaks at the Poor People’s Campaign Assembly | June 29, 2024

National Council of Jewish Women was proud to be anchor partners for the PPC. In addition to speaking about the war between Israel and Hamas, NCJW CEO Sheila Katz took the stage to speak about lifting people out of poverty with dignity.

I’m Sheila Katz, CEO of National Council of Jewish Women, a 130 year old Jewish feminist civil rights organization working for equity and justice for women, children, and families.

Kavod habriot, the dignity of every human, is one of the most sacred commandments in Jewish scripture. Dignity first and foremost, not just for the wealthy and well-connected, but for all people.

We are here today, together from all states and all faiths, because our country is broken. People are suffering. And we must do better.

Today, we confront the pervasive injustices that afflict our nation—systemic racism, economic exploitation, Christian nationalism, misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism, islamophobia, ableism, and more. These injustices manifest in policies that perpetuate poverty, deny healthcare, and suppress the voices of marginalized communities.

To be clear: It is a policy decision 

that millions of children are living in poverty.

that millions of families are living paycheck to paycheck.

And that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

We refuse to accept these statistics as status quo because we know they impact real people, each of whom is holy, and each worthy of a life with dignity.

We refuse to be complacent in the face of injustice. 

Together, we mourn the victims of gun violence, racism, and bigotry. 

Together, we reject the erosion of women’s rights and human dignity. 

Today is Shabbat, the Jewish peoples’ holy day of rest and prayer. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously talked about praying with his feet when marching alongside Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, while many in the Jewish community are praying in synagogues, we are also here, arm in arm with our friends, to pray with our feet, with our legs, with our wheelchairs, with our bodies, and with everything we have to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice to end the plague of poverty and systemic oppression in America.

May we continue marching together toward a more holy world we create with love, with peace and with justice. Amen.

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