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Actions To Protect Refugees

07/20/2018 10:28:38 AM


Rabbi Fred Greene

Last night, I heard the sound file on the news where a young child was crying out, "Papa! Papa!" It was heartbreaking. I knew I needed to write to you.

President Trump's tweet that immigrants will "infest our Country" echoes the antisemitsm of Shoah where Nazis described Jews as rats carrying contagion. I also hear the echo of Pharaoh in the first chapter of Exodus, when the newly emerged Pharaoh who didn't know Joseph was threatened by the Israelites very presence. His response was to enslave them. I knew I needed to write to you.

Attorney General Sessions responded to criticism and comparison to policies of the Nazis, with an unconscionable statement: "Well, it's a real exaggeration, of course. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country...." I knew I needed to write to you. 

We are witnesses to nothing less than our government inflicting a trauma on 2,000 children and their parents. To me, it is far beyond the healthy debate of immigration policy. These parents and children are suffering at the hands of our precious democratic government. So we need to exercise our civic duty to respond with Jewish values and voices.

While AG Sessions cited Romans 13 to advance the idea that God ordains a government, as if God was able to endorse this new zero-tolerance policy, I would bring other sources to encourage us to step forward, grow a respectful courage and pursue justice. The text that comes to my mind is: there is "one law/standard for the stranger and citizen alike: for I, the Eternal, am your God"! (Leviticus 24:22)

Friends, we are told over and over again that we need to walk in God’s ways because we know what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land. Because we have that experience, that memory, we need to step forward to help others who are in similar straits.

Below, you will find items to read, view and share via social media. There are links to sign petitions, send tzedakah, and to physically show up and take a stand.

What you can do:

  • READ: The Reform Movement joined with 26 national Jewish organizations to send a letter to the Administration expressing our strong opposition to the cruel practice of separating migrant parents from the children. Read it here.
  • SEND a letter demanding that President Trump, Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen, and Attorney General Sessions end family separation now.
  • COME to our Jewish community’s Moral Minyan: A Jewish Prayer Service for Justice and Healing – Wednesday, June 27 from 5pm to 7pm outside the ICE Detention Center, 3130 North Oakland Street, Aurora, CO 80010. There will be a traditional evening service and speakers. Find updates on Facebook, here.
  • JOIN: A rally has been organized by major immigrant rights groups in around the country. In Colorado, there will be gatherings organized by activists, connected to the national Families Belong Together campaign and is taking place on the National Day of Action. I know not everyone is able to attend since the event falls on Shabbat. I do want to bring it to your attention, however. More details here. There will be a gathering in Boulder and one in Denver.
  • WATCH: The Anti-Defamation League just released a powerful video that includes statements from hidden children of the Holocaust who felt compelled to speak out. Watch and share:
  • READ: Our own congregant, Otto Verdoner, whose family has been connected to Har HaShem for years, shared an article written by his sister who shares an insight into the trauma they experienced as children of the Sholah/Holocaust. (We are particularly grateful for his strength to share this message!) Read “Nazis separated me from my parents as a child. The trauma lasts a lifetime” by Yoka Verdoner.
  • CALL: I urge you to call your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and tell them they must take action to end this cruel and inhumane policy. Call 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Members. When your Member office answers, please urge them to speak out against these cruel, inhumane family separation policies and tell them that Congress must act to pass legislation that would end family separation and stop human rights abuses in the name of immigration enforcement. If you do not know who your representative or senators are, do not worry. The receptionist will look this information up for you.
  • SIGN: After you call your representative and senators, you may also sign ADL’s online petition at:
  • READ: For even more ways to take action, read this excellent article in Slate by Dahlia Lithwick and Margo Schlanger.
  • PROVIDE tangible support to detainees and separated families by gathering and sending toiletries and toys to the border. Send care packages to: Michael Blum Social Action Chair, Temple Emanuel, 4300 Chai Street (North C Street) McAllen, Texas 78504.

May the Kadosh Baruch Hu / The Holy One of Blessing watch over these vulnerable children and worried parents. Protect them and calm them. May these families be reunited speedily and soon. And may our citizens find the courage to step forward to pursue justice and love mercy.

With hopes and prayers for shalom.

Mon, June 5 2023 16 Sivan 5783