Several Jewish Social Justice Roundtable organizations have made statements condemning the executive order banning refugee resettlement and immigration. See below for statements from American Jewish World Service, Ameinu, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Habonim Dror North America, HIAS, JCRC of Greater New Haven, Jewish Council of Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, New Israel Fund, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Reconstructionist Movement, Right Now, T'ruah, Workmen's Circle, and the Boston Jewish community.
Send updates to hannah [at] jewishsocialjustice.org - we will revise as statements are made.
Join HIAS and others on Sunday, February 12 for a Jewish Community Action for Refugees in NYC.
American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish organization working to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world, strongly condemns the ban on refugee resettlement and immigration, announced today by the Trump administration. Over three decades, AJWS has worked with many faith organizations, including Muslim partners worldwide, to pursue goals we share in common—ending poverty and advancing human rights.
Statement of Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS: “As a Jewish organization informed by the lessons of Jewish history and anchored by the value of respecting all people, we object in the strongest terms to the two unacceptable and inhumane policies on refugees and immigrants announced by the White House today,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS. “We strenuously object to President Trump’s executive orders that would stop all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and that would ban all individuals from Syria and suspend people from several other countries from seeking refuge in the United States,” added Bank. “These policies violate the best traditions of the United States, international human rights law and our deepest Jewish values.”
“We call on the Trump Administration to reverse these inhumane policies, and we call on Congress and federal courts to do everything in their power to block their implementation.
“We call on all Americans from every community to join us in speaking out against these policies, which will directly threaten the lives of thousands of people who desperately and urgently need sanctuary in our country,” said Bank. “Welcoming refugees and immigrants to our shores is central to who we are as Americans and as Jews, and the Trump administration’s blanket ban based on fear and xenophobia is an affront to our core values.
“As the leader of an international Jewish organization that, for decades, has worked with Muslim organizations and Muslim partners to end poverty and advance human rights, we object in the strongest terms to the demonization of Muslims by the new American administration. We understand what it means for a community to be demonized by authoritarian powers, and we regret that President Trump does not understand this lesson from the darkest chapters in world history,” added Bank.
“We understand all too well what it means to deny safe harbor to persecuted people who are seeking refuge, and we believe we are at risk of returning to the days when the United States tragically acted with indifference to Jewish and other refugees from Europe during World War II.
“We stand with refugees—those waiting desperately to gain protection within our borders and those who are here already and desperately hoping to be reunited with their family members who have yet to come to the United States. Denying refuge to those in need repudiates the Jewish mandate to welcome the stranger and is a gross affront to our shared humanity with all citizens of this world.”
Ameinu is deeply concerned by President Donald Trump’s draft Executive Order on immigration, sanctuary cities and refugees. Knowing that our core values command that we welcome the Ger (stranger) and be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, we are compelled to activism against policies that will harm the undocumented, Syrian refugees and other Muslim immigrants, and those who seek to assist them. We also must never forget our own history where Jews were left in Nazi clutches because of popular fears and overblown government reactions to charges that Nazi spies might be hiding among Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
Now is the time for vigilance, solidarity and action.
In response to the executive orders this past week on immigration and separately regarding refugees, we, the undersigned Boston Jewish religious, philanthropic, civic and human service organizations come together to say that these actions - which are causing anxiety, pain and anguish throughout immigrant communities and our nation – are unjust. We stand together on the side of empathy and religious tolerance and we urge the administration to open the gates of compassion to those seeking safety, regardless of their faith or country of origin.
We urge our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to do everything in their legal authority to protect our foreign born neighbors throughout the Commonwealth. We urge our community and others to join together and work to ensure that the United States does not close our doors to immigrants and refugees. We urge our government to maintain and expand a policy of responsible leadership for the protection and resettlement of refugee families, including in the United States and including innocent civilians fleeing the horrors in Syria.
The Torah warns against the wronging of a stranger (Ger) in thirty-six places. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks takes note that “there is something striking about this almost endlessly iterated concern for the stranger – together with the historical reminder that “you yourselves were slaves in Egypt.” Sacks goes on:
“Why should you not hate the stranger? – asks the Torah. Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you… I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the color of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image – says God – they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.”
At the current moment, Jewish Vocational Service is serving some five hundred refugee clients in Boston, many of whom are waiting to be reunited with family members. Jewish Family Service of Metrowest is leading a collaboration of area synagogues to resettle refugee families with young children, with additional families - including Syrian Muslims and Ukrainian Jews -already screened, approved and ready to arrive in the coming weeks. All of these families are experiencing a great deal of anxiety and pain, and, for those who may be prevented from arriving, the potential for additional great suffering. The organized Jewish community of Boston and our human service agencies remain committed to our work in service to these families and their needs.
We share the belief that it is long past time for our nation to enact comprehensive immigration reform. We affirm our commitment to work for reform that maintains our commitment to being a welcoming nation that does not close its doors to immigrants, that addresses border security, and that provides a path to normalization of the status of those already living here – the overwhelming majority of whom share the same desires as every generation of American immigrant and refugee families; safety, security and the opportunity to pursue the promise of the American Dream for themselves and their children. We believe that the United States has the moral responsibility and the capacity to welcome at least as many refugees as we have been doing in recent years, with appropriate and diligent screening.
The approach to addressing these issues that was announced this past week is rooted in a rhetoric of fear and demonization and a policy that treats human beings around the world – including endangered refugees, many of whom are children who are suffering in devastating conditions - as an enforcement problem. We believe that these issues must be approached as a humanitarian matter, with a commitment to the dignity and welfare of all peoples.
Our community knows all too well the suffering that comes when America turns away refugees. We have experienced first-hand the extraordinary contributions that we as immigrants and the children of immigrants have brought to the American endeavor by adding to the prosperity and creativity of our nation. As Jews we came to this country often fleeing danger and oppression, and often we were unwelcome and discriminated against upon our arrival. We came to pursue our hopes, to practice our faith freely, and to realize the promise of America. We must not close our doors to those around the world who seek these same opportunities today.
We reject any effort to shut our nation’s doors on the most vulnerable. We recommit ourselves to the work of protecting and advancing the dignity of all human beings and to preventing suffering in this world.
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
AJC New England
Anti-Defamation League, New England Region
Hillel Council of New England
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters
JCC Greater Boston Jewish Community
Housing for the Elderly
Jewish Family Service of Metrowest
Jewish Labor Committee, New England
Jewish Vocational Service
Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
Synagogue Council of Massachusetts
Workmen's Circle, Boston
In advance of President Donald Trump’s expected signing of a series of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim executive orders, Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, released the following statement:
“Making decisions on who is welcome in our country based solely on their religion or national origin is fundamentally un-American. As Jews, we know what it’s like to be scapegoated and we will not be silent now.
President Trump continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding about what makes America great. Instead of embracing fundamental American values such as the First Amendment’s protections of religious freedom, welcoming immigrants, equal rights, diversity, and keeping our most vulnerable safe, he continues to divide the country by scapegoating immigrants, refugees and Muslims through these dangerous and odious executive orders.
“Trump’s attacks on these basic principles run counter to everything we believe in as American Jews. Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million, he does not speak for all Americans, and he has no mandate for the radical agenda he is now seeking to implement.
“Bend the Arc supports all those affected by these executive orders, especially our Muslim, Arab, and immigrant brothers and sisters, and we call on every Member of Congress to speak out — immediately — in opposition to these policies and to take steps to protect those most threatened by the cruelty of this administration.”
Habonim Dror North America
Habonim Dror North America condemns the actions of the Trump Administration in the first 10 days of his term. No step toward injustice should go unanswered, and as the Trump administration moves to quickly change policies that affect the lives of millions, we must raise our voices against every unjust and discriminatory action.
In the past week, Trump has signed executive actions and memorandums locking funding for international groups that provide or educate about abortions, commencing the building of a wall on the US border with Mexico, signaling the building of two major pipelines, silencing scientific branches of the American government, and much more.
Most recently, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump signed an executive order banning the travel of immigrants, citizens, green card holders, visa holders, and travelers from seven Muslim countries. We, as Jews, have been immigrants throughout our history.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.” -- Leviticus 19:33-34
It is in our value core, as Jews, to welcome those who seek shelter and freedom, and to stand against injustice and discrimination. The passing of this executive order is reminiscent of the barring of Jewish immigrants and refugees in the 1930s as they tried to escape the Holocaust in Europe.
As young Jews who work towards social justice, we are disgusted by the actions of the Trump administration, and we will not be complacent in allowing such actions to be carried out. Habonim Dror rejects discrimination and hateful actions. We, as movement members, must hold one another accountable and hold one another up; we must continue to educate the youth towards a better future, we must educate one another, and we must give one another the strength to continue to protest and resist, in the many different ways that are possible. We will use our voices, our education, and our partnerships to continue fighting for justice.
בכח התקווה שעוד נראה ימים טובים, אנו לא נרתעים, אנו כאן חזקים, אנו דרור הבונים. B’koach hatikva she’od nir’eh yamim tovim, anu lo nirtaim, anu kan chazakim, anu Dror Habonim.
With the power of the hope that good days are still to come: we will not recoil; we are here; we are strong; we are Habonim Dror.
Today, President Trump signed an executive order suspending the federal refugee resettlement program, barring the resettlement of refugees from Syria, calling for “extreme vetting,” halting refugee resettlement for 120 days and reducing the number of refugee admissions in fiscal year 2017 to 50,000, compared to 110,000, as planned by the Obama administration.
“With the stroke of a pen, Donald Trump has abdicated American values and American leadership on welcoming refugees,” said Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. “To deprive refugees of safe haven is to scapegoat vulnerable human beings, and to confuse those who flee terror with terror itself. We can only pray that other countries do not follow Trump’s example of turning away people trying to flee genocide and persecution.”
“It is both heartbreaking and outrageous that Trump is slamming the door in the faces of refugees on International Holocaust Remembrance Day of all days, as the entire refugee convention came out of the Holocaust and the failure of the international community to protect Jews and survivors,” Hetfield said.
“HIAS is outraged by the Trump administration’s callous approach to victims of war and terror, and its complete disregard for the lessons of the events we commemorate today. We will fight this betrayal of American and Jewish values with every tool at our disposal, because we know all too well the consequences when, rather than rescue and welcome those in need, the U.S. constructs barriers to keep them out.”
“For most of our history, America has welcomed refugees as a strength. However, there have been dark periods, including during the Holocaust, when the United States and other countries shut their doors to millions of innocent people. Instead of finding refuge, they were murdered because of their faith, their opinion, or their ethnicity. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, America is once again entering a terrible dark period where we choose to fear refugees, rather than to welcome them.”
We, the undersigned Jewish Federations throughout the State of Connecticut, along with JFACT (Jewish Federations Association of Connecticut) and the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, oppose President Trump’s Executive Orderbarring many refugees and immigrants from entering the United States.
President Trump’s Executive Order, issued on Friday, January 27, 2017, bans any refugees from entering the United States for 120 days; suspends indefinitely any Syrian refugee resettlement; and bans nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen for any reason for 90 days.
Judaism instructs, repeatedly and unambiguously, that we are forbidden from oppressing the stranger. The Bible states no less than 36 separate times that we are obligated to care for the stranger in our society. Leviticus 19:34, as one example, teaches: “The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Both Jewish values and Jewish historical experience as immigrants and refugees mandate that we repudiate policies that demonize, ostracize, and leave stranded refugees and other vulnerable immigrants. We remember all too well the story of the St. Louis—of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe by ship on the eve of the Holocaust who were denied entry into the U.S. and sent back, many to their deaths. We cannot and will not stand idly by as today’s victims of war and terror are left helpless and isolated. Nor can we support policies that single out those who practice a certain religion—in this case Islam—for disproportionate treatment.
While we encourage efforts to increase American security, this Executive Order threatens to do the opposite. The Executive Order likely will provide material to further incite radical Islamists against the United States and certainly has alienated the allies we need to defeat them.
We therefore stand with the numerous national Jewish organizations—including the leadership of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Movements, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the ADL, and HIAS—who have voiced strenuous concern about this Executive Order. We also specifically affirm our commitment to stand with our friends and neighbors in the Muslim community who are rightfully concerned with the implications this ban will have on their loved ones. America should continue to live up to its reputation as a safe haven for people fleeing religious persecution, civil war, terror, and other atrocities in their native countries and in need of refuge.
Faced with the largest global refugee crisis of our time, the United States must continue to be a beacon of freedom, safety, and hope.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the coordinating body of the Jewish community relations field, opposes President Trump’s executive orders that would restrict entry for refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, halt federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” and expand detention for immigrants and asylum-seekers.
“We are deeply concerned about President Trump’s actions on immigration and refugees, and the callous decision to take such action on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. These pronouncements not only severely restrict immigration, they instill fear among existing immigrant populations that they are not welcome and may be at risk,” said David Bernstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “The ‘sanctuary cities’ provision, especially, threatens to seriously compromise the police’s ability to keep communities safe by undermining trust and communication between police and immigrant populations.”
The Jewish people know firsthand the consequences of turning away those fleeing persecution. Based on our own immigrant experience and Judaism’s imperative to “welcome the stranger,” the Jewish Council for Public Affairs has advocated for more than 70 years on behalf of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers who hope to build a better life for themselves and their children. Resettled refugees have consistently boosted the economy, and enriched our culture and pluralistic ethos.
“As the daughter of refugees, I take this very personally,” stated Cheryl Fishbein, Chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “The United States currently has one of the most stringent vetting policies in the world and should continue this careful review,” she added. “We are facing a severe international refugee crisis and cannot let our concerns about radical Islam undermine a core national purpose—providing a home for immigrants. The American immigrant experience is one of the country’s greatest sources of strength.”
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) Condemns Actions that Roll Back Progress and Undermine our Jewish Values
As an organization that has continuously worked to combat discrimination and anti-Semitism for more than 50 years, JCUA will not stand idly by as our new administration advances policies and people in positions of power with devastating local ramifications. The actions taken by President Trump in the last 12 days are in direct opposition to our fundamental values. They undermine our communities, our safety, and our shared humanity.
At the core of the Jewish people’s story is our slavery and liberation from Egypt. Remembering this liberation obligates us to safeguard the dignity and security of those who face oppression today. Our freedom is tied inextricably to the freedom of others, Jewish or not. Our faith demands the pursuit of justice, especially for the most vulnerable in our community.
The policies being set forth by the new administration are cruel and short-sighted. The Executive Orders issued last week barring entry to the United States for refugees and immigrants are an attack on innocent people and their families. The majority of the people in our own community come from immigrant families or are immigrants themselves. The scapegoating of innocent people is dangerous and wrong, a formula that we recognize from our own history. We reject all efforts to target those who are already vulnerable in our city; it endangers lives and stokes the fire of baseless hatred.
In addition, the people that this administration is elevating to positions of power hold values that are antithetical to our tradition of standing with those who are marginalized. Neil Gorsuch’s hostility towards victims of police brutality and reproductive rights for women is deeply concerning. Steve Bannon’s ties to white supremacist groups and racist and anti-Semitic ideology are alarming.
Since 1964, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs has worked to combat discrimination, disinvestment, racism and anti-Semitism by partnering with diverse communities in Chicago. JCUA members are united in our commitment to lift up our most cherished Jewish values. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across Chicago, and will continue our work against social injustice, fighting for the dignity and humanity of the people in our city.
The Jewish Labor Committee is dismayed at President Trump’s executive order to “block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied,” as reported recently by Reuters. These actions run counter to the best traditions of the United States, and counter to the pressing needs of not only American society but refugees seeking shelter from violence and oppression in other lands.
It is unacceptable that President Trump will bar people fleeing war and persecution While the proposal says it is aimed at refugees from certain countries where there is terrorism, it is likely to be interpreted as against Muslims. As Jews, we have been victims of religious and ethnic discrimination, and understand that these need to be combated, especially when they become government policy. These refugees need a sanctuary -- as we once needed a sanctuary -- and the United States cannot close the door on these victims of religious and ethnic violence and hatred.
The vast majority of today’s refugees are people in desperate need. Today, all refugees who are trying to get to the United States are screened very thoroughly by the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies before being allowed entry to the United States.
President Trump’s proposed actions, combined with proposals to build a wall and seal off the U.S. border with Mexico, will likely have no impact on national security – and may serve to weaken our economy and society.
We understand that any government has a right – and duty – to rationally regulate trade, and our borders. But putting out a Not Welcome sign to Latin America and Muslim countries will not improve the lives of workers in the United States, and certainly not improve the lives of workers in other lands.
We call on our unions, as well as ethnic, religious and other community organizations, to make every effort to counter the proposals regarding refugees of the Trump Administration. We will, and call on others to, make our voices heard through every means appropriate to today’s difficult political climate.
At the same time, we call on our members and the larger community to support the refugee aid groups which are both in the frontline of assisting current refugees and their families, and working to stop the proposed refugee policies of our Government, and strengthen the United States as a country of refuge and sanctuary.
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today denounced President Trump’s anti-immigrant and refugee executive orders. NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:
“President Trump’s recent executive orders limiting refugee resettlement in the US based on religion and national origin and punishing “sanctuary cities” that do not report undocumented residents to immigration authorities threaten the very fabric of our nation. NCJW opposes any actions to harm immigrants and refugees seeking safety and better lives in the United States.
“Reducing the number of refugees allowed in the United States by more than half flies in the face of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, and pausing the refugee resettlement process for 120 days could ultimately add years of waiting for refugee individuals and families. Further, limiting refugees from predominantly Muslim countries — and vetting would-be refugees, immigrants, and visitors based on their opinions and beliefs — are just the first of what we fear to be a series of policies that promote discrimination based on religion or national origin. By justifying its action based on the threat of terrorism, the administration stokes the fires of hate and vilification and endangers the lives of Muslims living now in the US.
“Further, the president’s attack on sanctuary cities undermines our communities and our safety. Involving police in deportation makes it more difficult and risky for immigrants and their families to step forward as victims or witnesses of crimes and to participate freely in community life. Immigrants are our family members, neighbors, teachers, soldiers, and friends. At a time when mass incarceration and racial profiling have already created a crisis of confidence in law enforcement for communities of color, local law enforcement entanglement with deportation makes matters even worse.
“We are stronger when we stand united against hate, when we are united by our values — values that include the freedom to practice our faith without fear, intimidation, or threat of physical violence. As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. We must rise above prejudice and fear to open our communities to the individuals and families who seek a haven in the United States.”
Today, in response to an executive order closing the door to immigrants and refugees based on their national origin and Muslim faith, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund (NIF), released the following statement:
As a proud, patriotic American Jew, I'm grateful that our country gave refuge to my grandparents and great-grandparents who came to this country seeking the American promise of refuge, freedom, and opportunity.
Like me, and like most Americans, President Trump comes from a family of immigrants. His family, too, sought safety, security and prosperity in America, and America welcomed them. His mother immigrated from Scotland in 1929, as the world plunged into the Great Depression. His grandfather immigrated from Germany around the turn of the century. And of course his wife, first lady Melania Trump, immigrated from the former Yugoslavia and became an American just over a decade ago.
So it is not only exceptionally cruel and disgracefully un-American for President Trump to shut our doors to those from any nationality, religion, or ethnicity -- including Muslims. It is also hypocritical and short-sighted. President Trump should know, more than anyone, that immigrants and refugees make our country stronger. Stoking fear and xenophobia is a betrayal of the values we hold dear, and is unbefitting an American president.
At NIF, we've worked hard to help Israel live up to the value of welcoming the stranger through our work with refugees and asylum-seekers who fled persecution in places like Darfur and Eritrea. We know that welcoming refugees can be difficult, but it is a vital act for any liberal democracy. We also know that welcoming refugees means welcoming exceptional individuals like Mutasim Ali, Israel's first Darfurian to receive refugee status. This year, on his first visit to the United States, Mutasim told an audience of American NIF supporters, "Asylum-seekers, like so many, came to Israel to seek safety from terrible atrocities we had no choice but to escape. We came to contribute to Israeli society. We are an asset – not a threat."
The Conservative/Masorti movement of Judaism as represented by its constituent organizations listed below has issued the following statement regarding the executive order President Donald Trump signed on Friday barring many refugees and immigrants from entering the United States:
Deeply rooted in our tradition, faith, and values, we are a people of immigrants. Throughout our history we often were the stranger in a strange land and were persecuted and attacked simply for being the other. As Jews, it is not only our religious values that speak to welcoming those who seek shelter and safety, but it is also a pillar of free, democratic nations.
Our religious tradition repeatedly forbids us from oppressing the stranger. For instance, Leviticus 19:34 commands us, 'The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.' And Exodus 22:21, 'And you shall not wrong a stranger, neither shall you oppress them; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.' It is a betrayal of Jewish history and our own Jewish values to stand quiet as victims of war and terror are left helpless -- especially on the basis of religion.
The protracted war in Syria has created 7 million displaced persons within Syria alone and millions more throughout the Middle East, with refugees escaping through Turkey, the Balkans and Europe. Meanwhile, millions of undocumented immigrants in America live in fear of imprisonment, deportation or worse.
The Conservative movement has continuously and consistently advocated for the rights of immigrants including pathways to citizenship and family reunification as a top priority. We call on the US government to reject policy proposals that would halt, limit, or curtail refugee resettlement in the U.S. or prioritize certain refugees over others; and urge President Trump and the U.S. Congress to instead take bold leadership by providing robust funding to support refugees around the world as well as provide necessary resources to refugees who are already resettled in the U.S.
Most importantly, the Conservative Movement completely rejects the targeting of individuals based on their religion. As Jews, it is an affront to our fundamental values. We are all enriched by the diverse set of experiences that immigrants bring to our society. We see it not only throughout our economy and educational system, but also in our synagogues, camps, schools, and institutions where people of diverse backgrounds, countries of origin and experiences come together to pray to the same God, who sees us all as equals. To do otherwise betrays the Jewish values we find deeply engrained in our faith and history.
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
The Jewish Theological Seminary
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs
Women's League for Conservative Judaism
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities are dismayed as President Trump prepares to take action to close the doors to thousands of refugees seeking shelter and relief from the humanitarian crisis in which they find themselves.
In one of his first acts since taking office, President Trump plans to reverse the foundational U.S. stance as a haven for those subject to persecution, genocide, displacement and violence. His planned Executive Order will significantly limit how many individuals and families fleeing “terror-prone countries” - people who are most in need of safety and asylum - can find respite.
The entire American Jewish community, indeed a majority of the American community, is made up of descendants of refugees and immigrants. Our ancestors came to this country seeking safety, security and a better way of life for their families. Following the biblical exhortation to welcome the stranger, the U.S. welcomed our families to these shores, many met by a statue whose very presence honors that legacy.
Right now, the global refugee crisis has reached immense proportions. There are an estimated 65 million displaced people awaiting rescue, mostly in “terror-prone” and Muslim-majority countries. What is not understood is that Muslims make up the overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism. Yet these are the very people we will be turning away.
As Jews who remember our ancestors’ experience and who look for inspiration to the Torah’s exhortation to “welcome the stranger,” we cannot be silent while our borders close. The RRA and the RRC/ Jewish Reconstructionist Communities strongly urge President Trump to reconsider his Executive Order and to keep open the doors to those most in need. We also urge members of Congress to continue to fund the refugee resettlement and family reunification programs.
We call on our rabbis, leaders and members of our communities to speak out on this issue and contact the White House and their elected representatives in Congress to urge support for refugees without regard to religion
In response to President Trump’s executive order barring entry to the United States for refugees, immigrants and others from several majority-Muslim countries, the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement:
“The Reform Movement denounces in the strongest terms the horrifying executive order on immigration and refugees issued late Friday evening by President Trump. The order signed yesterday is even worse than feared, barring entry of all Syrian refugees, imposing in essence a religious test for entry to the U.S., and refusing entry to any individual coming from a list of majority-Muslim nations – betraying even those individuals who have supported our nation's military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Families are now being held apart and countless individuals who have served our nation in the most difficult circumstances are in jeopardy.
“The Reform Movement called on the President not to sign a discriminatory order banning refugees and others entering from several majority-Muslim nations. Tragically, he did not heed our call or those from countless other people of faith, humanitarians, and foreign service and military veterans. Reports of families separated at our nation’s airports are gut-wrenching. As Jews, we know the impact that xenophobia and religious profiling have on all people whose lives are endangered by exclusionary laws.
“We have not forgotten our charge: ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ (Leviticus 19:33-34)
“The world is learning that under the Trump Administration, America does not honor its commitments to people or to the values that have been a source of strength and moral leadership since our founding. This executive order will give credence to those stoking the flames of religious hatred, making citizens of every nation on earth, including the United States, less safe for years to come.
“We call on President Trump to rescind this abhorrent executive order. Every member of Congress must denounce its provisions, including the imposition of a religious test for entry, and urge its immediate repeal. Every American citizen must take every possible action to oppose this violation of America's greatness.
"In the days, weeks and years that follow, we will work with our clergy, lay leaders, institutions and congregations to provide assistance and support to immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and others yearning for the refuge and opportunity for a better life that we know the United States, at its best, can provide.”
Union for Reform Judaism
Daryl Messinger, Chair, North American Board of Trustees
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Isabel P. Dunst, Chair, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director
Right Now Statement on Trump’s Expected Anti-Refugee and Anti-Immigrant EO’s - January 27, 2017 | 29 Tevet 5777
“Do not oppress a stranger for you know the soul of the stranger, since you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)
“You shall not turn over a slave who seeks refuge with you. He shall live with you in any place he may choose, within one of your gates. You must not mistreat him.” (Deuteronomy 23:16-17)
“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Right Now: Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel, joins dozens of American and international human rights and faith-based organizations in condemning Trump’s expected Executive Orders against refugees and migrants. Since its inception, Right Now has been a voice for refugee rights in Israel and around the world, calling on all countries and peoples to do their share in addressing the challenges of the world’s refugee crisis.
As Jews, our tradition and our own history compel us to protect the stranger and help those who seek refuge from persecution. As human beings, our commitment to the value of every human life and our obligation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Refugee Convention compel us to support the right of every human being to life, liberty, and freedom from persecution.
We call on President Trump, members of Congress, Federal Judges and fellow citizens to block any efforts to curtail or restrict America’s current refugee and asylum policies, at a time when they are needed most. We call on the United States, as all countries, to do its part in sharing in the burdens of the current global refugee crisis and in addressing the root causes that force people to become refugees. We call on the nations of the world to work together to address both the causes and the results of the global refugee crisis, instead of blame-pointing, burden-shirking and collaborating with oppressive refugee-producing regimes.
We call upon the American Jewish community and especially community organizations, leaders and rabbis to continue their support of refugee rights, and to extend that support beyond Donald Trump and beyond the borders of the United States, to support refugee rights around the world, including in Israel, where policies of detention and deportation similar and worse than those proposed by Trump have already been enacted in the supposed name of “Jewish” values.
We call on our fellow Jews and people of all faiths to sound an unequivocal voice in support of civil, human and refugee rights in the United States and everywhere and to do their share by taking tangible actions as individuals, communities, and nations to support refugees and human rights everywhere.
Right Now: Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel is an international coalition of Jews and allies who are advocating for the rights of the African asylum seekers in Israel through awareness-raising, direct advocacy, and grassroots campaigns. www.asylumseekers.org | www.facebook.com/rightnowisrael
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights condemns in the strongest terms this week's expected Executive Orders, which effectively close our borders to Muslims, and flagrantly violate America’s longstanding, values-driven commitment to serving as a safe haven for refugees. We likewise oppose any attempts to impose a “values test” on prospective immigrants as a backdoor method of screening on the basis of religion.
As Jews, who know what it means to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we stand firmly with refugees fleeing war, persecution, and economic strife. For many in our American Jewish community, witnessing these refugees and the backlash inspired by some nativists reminds us of our own families who arrived on America’s shores in the early 20th Century. While some were able to successfully immigrate, others were tragically left behind with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, a law aimed at keeping the United States free of immigrant populations deemed to be “suspicious” or “dangerous”, including Jews, Italians, and Asians. Tragically, this policy shift led to disastrous consequences when many people in our community perished after being ruthlessly turned away from our shores.
On more than 36 occasions the Torah declares that our experience as strangers in the land of Egypt obligates us to care for the most vulnerable among us; particularly the sojourners, migrants, and immigrants seeking refuge in our midst. Abraham and Sarah, who welcomed three unknown travelers into their home, modeled hachnasat orchim--welcoming guests--which the Talmud declared to be even more important than speaking to God. And the reviled tribe of Amalek achieved its wicked status in the annals of Jewish history by attacking the most vulnerable of the Israelites fleeing Egypt.
We are proud that so many of T’ruah’s 1,800 rabbis are following the example of Abraham and Sarah by standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, including the Muslim, Arab, and Asian communities most directly affected by these Executive Orders. We pledge to amplify the voices of our rabbis in their localities, and to join anticipated legal challenges led by our allies in the civil rights community.
The Executive Orders announced today use the veil of national security to target Muslims by reinstating the discredited vetting procedures, established after September 11, aimed at men from Muslim-majority countries. These procedures did not result in a single terrorism-related conviction. The Jewish community understands all too well the danger of compromising the civil liberties of any national, ethnic or religious group, or of holding entire groups collectively responsible for the actions of individuals. America is great when we unite around the aspirational values of inclusion, tolerance and freedom. And we owe great thanks, in part, to the millions of immigrants who have made countless contributions to every single aspect of this country’s greatness. Today’s Executive Orders undermine our values and weaken the moral fiber upon which our nation stands.
Saturday will go down in history as a record-breaking turnout of the progressive movement. Hundreds of thousands of us showed up in DC, NYC, LA, Boston, and across the country and world to say “No!” to Trump’s agenda of rollbacks to civil liberties and human rights. In New York, hundreds of Workmen’s Circle members and friends stood among a Jewish contingent over a thousand people strong. In Washington, DC, another massive Jewish contingent marched in the streets. And we saw this again and again across the United States and the world!
Today some of our worst fears are fast becoming reality. In his first days in office, President Trump has signed orders attacking women’s rights and environmental protections, and today he is set to sign an order restricting entry to the US from majority Muslim countries and banning Syrian refugees. He is then set to expand the Mexican border wall and also to target sanctuary cities like New York City.
The Workmen’s Circle was founded by immigrants who arrived in the early 1900’s in a United States that was not always welcoming to them. They had to fight for fair paying jobs, safe working conditions, decent housing, education, and adequate healthcare, and the Workmen’s Circle responded by organizing activist communities to successfully work for a better world for all. Many of these same rights are now under attack, and we again pledge to organize and empower communities to fight back.
Today we urge everyone to turn out for local rallies supporting Muslim and Immigrant rights. In NYC, we will join a Vigil with the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY). There will be rallies across the country, and we urge you to connect with an immigration rights group in your neighborhood.
When: Wednesday, January 25th
Where: Washington Square Park Arch
Look for a cluster of Workmen’s Circle Signs and Stand with Us!