“Jewish Ethics of Being a Guest at a Hotel” by Schmuly Yanklowitz

Reference: Uri L'Tzadek

Ben Zoma used to say, “What does a good guest say? Look at how much trouble my host has taken for me!” Berakhot 58a

1. Peulat Sachir & Oshek (A worker’s rightful wage & Oppression of workers):  Spending money on any product is a vote for the producer and one of the greatest influences we have on society is through our decision-making of where to spend our money. How, besides the location, price, and accommodations, should we choose which hotel to stay at? Often times, hotel workers work very long days and make less than minimum wage (not to mention living wage).These workers need protections. Learn which hotels use unionized labor and which do not: http://www.hotelworkersrising.org/HotelGuide/. Ask the manager at a hotel that you’re considering staying at if they are unionized. If so, thank them. If not, let them know that you’re going to choose a different location.

Great 20th century poskim including Rav Uziel, Rav Feinstein, and Rav Kook came out strongly in support of unions and the halakhic rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Rav Uziel wrote: “All of these (human needs) can only be achieved through unions, and thus the Torah of Israel grants a complete and legally recognized right to organize, even though this may result in a loss to employers.”

2. Rachmanut (mercy for all people) – One should consider leaving a tip of around $3 – $6 for the hotel worker who cleans one’s room. These workers often make minimum wage doing exhausting work and these small tips can go a long way. One should consider leaving a note with the tip indicating that the money is for the one cleaning the room, since hotel workers are often informed not to take anything from rooms and that tip may end up in the wrong hands.

3. Menschlikit & Derekh Eretz (Acting as a respectful person) – One might consider making the work of those who clean our rooms a bit easier. One can strip the sheets from the bed and pillows, saving the worker from having to exert energy on this tedious task. Hotel workers commonly experience injuries during cleaning work and by keeping the room organized and clean, other accidents can be avoided.

4. Ba’al Tashchit (mitzvah not to waste) – How often do you use new sheets and towels at home? Do you really need to request new sheets and towels every day at the hotel? Perhaps you can put up your “do not disturb sign” and save the energy of the worker, save water from the wash, and protect the environment.

5. Hakarat Hatov (gratitude) – consider thanking the staff for their help and even starting up a conversation with them. Each day they serve guests more financially privileged in what can be an alienating environment. Smile!

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