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Consider the leadership of Rabbi Joseph Glaser, who in July 1967 was one of three mediators who helped reach an agreement with the Teamsters that they would withdraw from the fields.
Marshall Ganz, the son of a rabbi, had come from the civil rights struggle in Mississippi before becoming a volunteer and long-time organizer for the farm workers.
He shared this with me: The first "official" engagement of Rabbis that I recall was during the Lenten March to Sacramento in 1966 when a team of Rabbi's visited the marchers, brought Matzot and explained Passover in terms of the Last Supper, as well as Exodus.
When Chavez died in 1993, farm workers nationwide were much better off than when he began his organizing efforts.
Any march for human dignity and fair wages is a Jewish cause. Who were some of the rabbis working in solidarity with him?
Is there any scholarship exploring the Jewish relationship with the UFW?
I know Orthodox rabbis who argued it was forbidden to eat grapes in the 1960s because of oppressive labor practices, but who was working more closely with Chavez?
It was most closely associated with California and wine and table grape growers, and frequently pitted nonviolent farm workers against Teamster goon squads, which often negotiated secret sweetheart deals with big growers in an attempt to defeat the UFW through intimidation, both physical and psychological.
While several small unions had coalesced and organized in the early 1960s, in 1965 the farm worker struggle took off with the Delano Grape Strike, a five-year effort to unionize California winery workers.
In 1972, the union organized Florida citrus workers, defeating an attempt by the Nixon administration to restrict its activities, and affiliated with the AFL-CIO as the United Farm Workers of America.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the legislature passed a law that outlawed virtually any farm labor activity, including organizing or going on strike.
But, does anyone remember if there were rabbis or other Jewish leaders marching and organizing in solidarity with the Cesar Chavez and United Farm Workers? Chavez was born in Arizona, but he spent most of his early years toiling with his family as migrant workers in California, an experience that gave him first-hand knowledge of his future calling.