My name is Ben Levenson and I’ll be working on the Interfaith Worker Justice development team to support the long-term success of the organization’s efforts to organize and advocate for the dignity and justice of working people everywhere.
It’s fitting that I’m starting at IWJ just in time for Passover, Judaism’s celebration of liberation from slavery. I have always loved the holiday—the coming of spring, my mom’s apple-walnut haroset, and most of all, the theme of justice that runs throughout the Seder, the Passover ritual meal.
My family would discuss the oppression of the Israelites and then draw connects to modern day oppression—from environmental justice to healthcare to global inequality. For me—this social consciousness of Passover was crucial because it asked the Jewish community to engage with the world and drew social and political values from our religious tradition.
The Passover Haggaddah also tells us that we are to retell the story of the exodus every year. We use the same words, the same symbols year after year to recall the bondage of the Israelites.
Why? Because we must imagine ourselves to continually experience liberation and to continue to fight until all are free from oppression. I’m excited to work with IWJ to put these values into action-- to help workers who work in unsafe conditions, who have been the victims of wage theft, whose rights have been violated. And I will keep retelling the story year after year and fighting with IWJ, until we have justice.
I look forward to working with you and the IWJ network to make this a more just world. Thanks for being part of this movement.