Songs, Readings, Children Service Ideas, and Further Resources



Zum Gali Gali

Zum gali gali gali,
Zum gali gali.
Zum gali gali gali,
Zum gali gali.

Hechalutz le maan avoda
Avoda le maan hechalutz

Ha shalom le maan ha amin
Ha amin le maan ha shalom
The pioneer is for work;
work is for the pioneer.

Peace shall be for all the world;
all the world shall be for peace.

Em Am Em - / etc.

Lo Alecha Hamacha Ligmor

Lo alecha hamacha ligmor,
Lo alecha ligmor.
Vo ata ben chorim libatil mimena,
Vo ata ben chorim.

You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
(Pirkei Avot 2:21)

G Am D_ / C D G D Em Am

Pastures of Plenty
(By Woodie Guthrie)

It a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed
My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road
Out of your dustbowl and westward we rolled
And your deserts was hot and your mountains was cold.

I work in your orchards of peaches and prune
And I sleep on the ground eath the light of your moon
On the edge of your city youl see us and then
We come with the dust and we go with the wind.

California, Arizona, I make all your crop
Then it up north to Oregon to harvest your hop
Dig beets from your ground, cut the grapes
from your vine
To set on your table your light sparkling wine.

Green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground
From the Grand Coulee Dam where the waters run down
Every state in the union us migrants has been
Wel work in this fight and wel fight till we win.

Em - - - / G - - - / / Em - - -


As men fort kine Sevastopol
Iz nit veit fun Simferopol
Dortin iz a stantzi faran

Ver darf zuchen niye glikken
S'iz a stanziye an antikel
In Zhankoye, Dzhan, dzan, dzhan


Hey Zhan hey Zhankoye
Hey Zhanvili, hey Zhankoye
Hey Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan [x 2]

Enfert Yidden af mine Kashe
Vi'z mine brider, v'iz Abrashe
S'gayt ba im der traktor vi a bahn

Di mime Layre ba der kosilke
Bayle ba der molotilke
In Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan

Repeat Chorus

Ver zogt az Yidden kene nit handlen
Essen fette yoich mit mandlen
Nor nit zine kine arbitsman?

Doss kenen zogen nor di sonim
Yidden shpite zay on in ponim
Tit a kik af Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan

Repeat Chorus

When you go from Sevastopol
On the way to Simferopol
Just you go a little farther down

There a little railroad depot
Known quite well by all the people
Called Zhankoye Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzha,

Repeat Chorus

Hey Zhan hey Zhankoye
Hey Zhanvili, hey Zhankoye
Hey Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan [x 2]

Now if you look for paradise
Youl see it there before your eyes
Stop your search and go no farther on

There we have a collective farm
All run by husky Jewish arms
At Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan

Repeat Chorus

Aunt Natasha drives the tractor
Grandma runs the cream extractor
While we work, we all can sing our songs

Who says Jews cannot be farmers
Spit in his eye who would so harm us
Say Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzhan

Repeat Chorus

Bread & Roses
(Inspired by a 1912 Lawrence, MA labor strike of women textile workers)

As we go marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts of gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing:
"Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!"

As we go marching, marching we battle too for men,
For they are women children and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes.
Hearts starve as well as bodies;
Give us bread but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.

Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too!

As we go marching, marching we bring the greater days.
The rising of he women means the rising of the race,
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one repose
But a sharing of life glories:
Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes.
Hearts starve as well as bodies.
Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

C G C / - G F G C / Am G F C / F C G C


Se Puede! Yes, We Can!
(By Luis J. Rodrguez, dedicated to his father Alfonso janitor)

Beneath steel and concrete,
Beneath night wandering shadow,
Come the eyes, voices and armslbows and kneesThat make buildings shine, magnifying the sun into all our faces.
The nameless, the scorned, the ignoredet
They are the humanity who make human things work.

Mothers and children, fathers and uncles, family and familyThey come to make this city dance, the rhythm of what is just,
What is securehe dance of strike and protest, demand and dignity.
They toil inside these glass templeshey clean themThe truly human who now step into the streets, into our tomorrows,
And declare: Basta! Enough! What we clean, we also make sacred.

This poem originally appeared in , Se Puede! Yes We Can! about the Janitor Strike in Los Angeles, written by Diana Cohn. 2002 eprinted with permission from Cinco Puntos Press (

The Story of Clara Lemlich

In the early 20th century, many American Jews and other Americans, particularly those newly arrived in the United States, worked long hours at sewing machines making clothing. These workers were often paid very little and treated badly. They were often locked into the room where they worked, which at the Triangle Factory resulted in many deaths in a fire from which the workers could not escape.

Even before the fire, workers were trying to find ways to make their jobs and lives better. Many workers came together in a mass meeting on November 22, 1909, to discuss ideas for change. They sat for two hours discussing different ideas. Many workers were afraid of the bosses, but they all knew that things had to change. Some workers wanted to strike, to refuse to work until their bosses agreed to treat them decently, but the idea was very frightening. Union and political leaders talked and talked, but they were not coming to a decision.

Then Clara Lemlich, a high-school-aged girl, rose and burst into an impassioned speech in Yiddish. She told the crowd that she could not put up with the intolerable conditions any more, and proposed that all of them strike.

The crowd jumped up, shouting and waving hats, canes, handkerchiefs, and anything else in grabbing range. After five whole minutes, the man running the meeting was finally able to make himself heard to ask for someone to formally speak in support of Clara idea. A second outburst arose, and the chairman said, "Do you mean faith?"

Borrowing words from the Jewish tradition, the thousand people raised their hands with the promise: "If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise." After the meeting, all 20,000 of the "shirtwaist" makers refused to work until they were treated better.

They helped win changes in the way that people who make clothing, cars and other products in America are treated, improving the lives of workers and their families to this day.

Discussion Starters for People of All Age

For Children: General Questions About Work

  1. What kind of work do you do (chores, paid work, schoolwork, etc.)?
  2. When do you feel proud of your work? How do you like to be treated when you work?
  3. What do you think makes something a good job? A bad job?
  4. What kind of jobs would you like to have during your life?
  5. What do your parents do?
  6. Do you know what your grandparents did, and if they worked at your age?
  7. How have times changed?
  8. Noticing Work and Workers Both Near and Far
  • What kind of work do you see people around you doing every day? (housework, construction, etc.)
  • Some work we don't see, but the people who do it are helping us. One example is clothing.
    Look at the label on your friend's shirt.
    • What country is it from?
    • Who do you think sewed your clothing?
    • How old to you think they might be?
    • What do you think their work life might be like?
  • As Jews we can relate to the hardships of being strangers in the Diaspora throughout Deuteronomy and at Passover we are reminded that we were slaves in the land of Egypt.
    • Where did your family come from and when did they arrive in the US?
    • What did they do for work once they got here?
    • What cultural groups today have the role that Jews held in the early 1900s?

    For All Ages: Torah Portion Connection for Shofetim

    Parshat Shofetim opens by giving us the well-known command:
    "Tzedek tzedek tirdof," or "Justice, justice shall you pursue!" (Deuteronomy 16:20)

    Read the passage before and after Deut. 16:20.

    • In this context, what do you think "Justice" means?

    Everett Fox translates this verse as: "Equity, equity you are to pursue." What do you think the difference is, if any, between "Equity" and "Justice?"

    • What do you think justice means for low-income workers and immigrants?

    Bachya ben Asher, a 13th century Spanish scholar, wrote that the duplication of the word justice means that as Jews we must pursue justice broadly defined, "whether to your profit or loss, whether in word or action, whether to Jew or non-Jew." The repetition of the word justice may also indicate the many possible definitions of justice in a given situation, so that justice to you may not be justice in my perspective.

    • What else could the repetition of the word justice mean?

    Later in the parsha, Deut. 19:14 tells us that you should not move the markers that indicate the boundaries of your neighbor land. According to Jewish scholars, this means that we should never interfere with another person attempts to make a living.

    • Since most of us no longer rely on farming land as a means of earning a living, what can we learn from this commandment today?
    • In what way should we be concerned about the rights of our neighbors?
    • What do you think are the basic rights of workers?

    Deuteronomy 16:19 instructs us, "You are not to cast aside a case for judgment, you are not to specially recognize anyone face, and you are not to take a bribe." In being sure to not "specially recognize anyone face," we are being careful to not discriminate against people who may look different, eat different foods, and take part in different religious or cultural traditions.

    • Do you have friends from other countries in your class or in your neighborhood?
    • Do you know workers from other countries? Do you know where they are from and how they ended up in America and with their job?
    • What might be the challenges of working as an immigrant in the U.S.?

    Taking it Home

    Encourage children to talk to their parents, grandparents and older relatives about the work that they have done and how they feel about it:

    • Were their grandparents expected to leave school and start working?
    • If so, at what age?
    • Were they involved in unions organizing for a better workplace and fair wages?
    • What were working conditions like?

    Anyone interested in learning more about children and labor can find information on the Internet. Some places to start are:,, and

    More tools for talking to children about work and labor can be found at

    Check out the NATIONAL INTERFAITH COMMITTEE FOR WORKER JUSTICE special 2003 Labor in the Pulpits resources at:,etc/LIP2003.pdf

    Suggested Readings for Children

    Call Me Ruth, by Marilyn Sachs, follows the life of a Russian-Jewish girl who comes to the US with her mother in the early 1900s, and watches as her mother eventually become a labor-movement leader in the garment industry.

    Another Jewish perspective comes through Hannah Journal: The Story of an Immigrant Girl by Marissa Moss. This is an illustrated book about the journey of a Jewish immigrant family coming to New York in 1901, as the family faces the hardships of poor working conditions in the garment industry.

    Immigrant Kids, a young adult history book by Russell Freedman, features first-person narratives by working immigrant children at the turn of the last century and classic photographs of children at work and play by Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.

    Katherine Paterson's Lyddie is an acclaimed novel in which a young factory girl must decide whether to risk losing the job she desperately needs in order to protest the appalling working conditions, as she takes note of how much rougher it is for the recent Irish immigrants.

    A powerful account of immigrant labor for older readers is Beyond the Western Sea, Book I: Escape from Home by Avi, which details the struggles of Irish and English immigrants in the Massachusetts textile industry.

    Good Girl Work: Factories, Sweatshops, and How Women Changed Their Role in the Workforce by Catherine Gourley is a compelling presentation of primary source material and informative narrative for a young adult audience.

    There are a number of books which feature the role of adultswork in children lives that are appropriate for any age. Patricia Pollacco, an engaging Jewish author, wrote My OlMan about her father losing his job and getting a new, more exciting one, and Virginia Lee Burton's classic, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel tells of a man who defies expectation to get the job done. Diana Cohn's bilingual narrative S, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can! offers us the view of a child who joins his mother in protest during the recent Janitor strike in Los Angeles.

    Among the many children books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, a tragedy which generated increased awareness of the exploitation of garment workers who were often Jewish, are the following:
    Bonnie Bader, East Side Story, about two girls who join a protest for better conditions; Holly Littlefield, Fire at the Triangle Factory, an account of two 14-year-old girls who survived the fire;
    Joan Dash, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Women Factory Strike of 1909;
    Barbara Goldin, Diamond Fire;
    Zachary Kent, The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire; and
    Virginia Sherrow, The Triangle Factory Fire.

    About Jews United for Justice

    Drawing on a tradition of Jewish commitment to justice and the talents and dedication of our members, Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) is an exciting community-based organization that strives to organize a visible Jewish presence and take action for economic and social justice in the Washington, DC area. JUFJ provides Jews with an opportunity to weave together Judaism and activism, and creates a community in which they can explore and strengthen a commitment to both.

    Since 1998, JUFJ has participated annually in the Labor in the Pulpits program, a national interfaith effort co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. In 2000, JUFJ joined with the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the Jewish Fund for Justice to produce the nationally-distributed guide, Labor on the Bimah: A Special Resource for Synagogues. The publication includes essays by rabbis representing the four major branches of Judaism, writings by union leaders, a Havdalah service that focuses on economic justice, and resources and ideas for bringing labor-related themes to congregational life.

    This collection of songs, readings and discussion material is an addition to JUFJ ongoing efforts to heighten awareness of work and labor issues for people of all ages. We hope you and your congregants find that this supplement leads to fresh and interesting experiences of talking, praying, singing, and thinking together about social justice.

    Thanks to Jess Champagne, Mackenzie Baris, Scott Dinsmore, Deb Rosenstein, Jevera Temsky, and Abby Bellows, who contributed to the creation of this supplement.