North Carolina rabbis unite for immigrant rights this Passover

Abby Levine, Director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable

The fight in North Carolina over the discrimination of undocumented youth isn’t over, but we have achieved a significant victory. I’m thrilled to share that late yesterday, North Carolina’s Department of Transportation announced that they will not be using pink drivers licenses for young immigrants! However, they will still put the words “No Legal Status” on those licenses starting Monday. If you haven’t followed this story, see this New York Times article for reference.

Earlier this week, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable began working to bring together rabbis across North Carolina to speak out against the pink drivers licenses. Sixteen Jewish leaders based in North Carolina signed a letter to Governor McCroy and seventy other national Jewish leaders and institutions from all denominations also signed. Earlier today, rabbis hand delivered the letter to the Governor’s office. The public pressure we brought to bear, and especially the leadership of the rabbis in North Carolina, made an important impact on this decision. 

Below is the letter with the final letter and list of signatories.  Please read this ABC News article for the full story. Best part: ”Our efforts do not end when major discrimination turns into minor discrimination; it ends when we are 100 percent positive that discriminatory policies will not go into effect in our state,” said Rabbi Eric Solomon of Raleigh’s Beth Meyer Synagogue.

After Passover, the Roundtable will continue to work with the North Carolina leaders to see what next steps might be possible to remove the “No Legal Status” from the licenses.

The letter

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dear Governor McCrory,

We write to you as Jewish leaders dismayed and disappointed that undocumented immigrants in North Carolina who qualify for the federal Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be singled out by having to carry driver’s licenses marked with a pink design and distinct from other North Carolina licenses.

We are especially shocked that the day these pink driver’s licenses go into effect will be the eve of Passover - March 25th.  On that evening, Jewish families throughout your state and around the world will be retelling the Bible’s story of the Exodus from Egypt.   That night, Jewish families and their guests will call to mind that our people were oppressed strangers in the land of Egypt.  Particularly during this holiday, our community is reminded to stand in solidarity with vulnerable strangers in our own time: immigrants from other lands.  We deeply wish that our people had been treated according to this principle in the many societies in which we lived as outsiders.  As Americans we affirm our national tradition of welcoming immigrants to our shores and borders.  We are proud to be citizens of a free and democratic nation and we hope that you will join us in keeping the America’s spirit of freedom and inclusion alive.

For these reasons, we urge you to do what is morally right and rescind this discriminatory policy.

North Carolina would be the only state in the nation to mandate distinct licenses for DACA immigrants.  North Carolina has been a leader in business and public policy advances.  The state you lead can do better.

A just society does not stigmatize an entire class of people.  A society built on the foundation of human dignity, equality, and compassion does not single out young men and women for gratuitous discrimination.  Governor McCrory, we pray you find the political courage to reverse this discriminatory policy to single out the young Americans.




Rabbi Meiri Batsheva, Congregation Beth Ha Tephila, Asheville, NC

Rabbi Leah R. Berkowitz, Judea Reform Congregation, Durham, NC

Rabbi Lucy Dinner, Temple Beth Or, Raleigh, NC

Ellen Dubin, Executive Director, Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, Inc

Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom, Raleigh, NC

Rabbi John Friedman, Judah Reform Congregation, Durham, North Carolina

Rabbi Fred Guttman, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro, NC

Rabbi Andy Koren, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro, NC

Rabbi Judith Schindler, Temple Beth El, Charlotte, NC

Rabbi Michael Shields, Temple Kol Tikvah of Lake Norman, Davidson, NC

Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue, Raleigh, North Carolina

Rabbi Jenny Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue, Raleigh, NC

Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn, Temple Emanuel, Winston-Salem, NC

Jane Holz Vercruysse, Board Member, Jewish Community of the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk, NC

Rabbi Judith Schindler, Temple Beth El, Charlotte, NC

Rabbi Susan Cowchock, Bahama, NC


National signatories:

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Temple Shalom, Chevy Chase, MD

Rabbi Erica Asch, Washington, DC

AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice

Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA

Nathan J. Diament, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Sheila Decter, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Rabbi Rachel Esserman, Endwell, NY

Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg,  Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Jewish Chaplaincy at Georgetown University

Barbara Glueck, American Jewish Committee Cincinnati

Rabbi Bob Gluck, Albany, NY

Rabbi Jen Gubitz, Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA

Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Mark Hetfield, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, Adas Israel Congregation, Washington, DC

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Jewish Community Action, Minneapolis, MN

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Jewish Labor Committee

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, New York City

Louis L. Kafka, Massachusetts State Representative

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, T’ruah

Rabbi Larry Karol, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Nancy Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi Marshal Klaven, Jackson, Mississippi

Idit Klein, Keshet

Rabbi Jonathan D. Klein, Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Margie Klein, Boston, MA

Rabbi Elinor Knepler, Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin. Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Esther Lederman, Temple Micah, Washington, DC

Rabbi Darah R. Lerner, Congregation Beth El, Bangor, Maine

Rabbi Sue Levy, Houston, TX

Rabbi Daniel Liben, Natick, MA

Rabbi Elias Lieberman, Falmouth Jewish Congregation, East Falmouth, MA  

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Seth M. Limmer, Congregation B’nai Yisrael of Armonk, NY

Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman, Temple Israel, Boston, MA

Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service

Rabbi Sarah Meytin, Rockville, MD

Rabbi Tamara Miller, Washington, DC

Moishe Kavod, Jewish Social Justice House, Boston, MA

Rabbi Jack Moline, Agudas Achim Congregation, Alexandria, VA

Rabbi Sarah Newmark, Gig Habor, WA

Rabbi Dev Noily, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Piedmont, CA

Rabbi Jessica Oleon, Temple Sinai, Washington, DC

Rabbi Mindy A. Portnoy, Temple Sinai, Washington, DC

Gail Reimer, Jewish Women’s Archive

Rabbi Victor H. Reinstein, Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Jamaica Plain, MA

Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, Jews United for Justice, Washington, DC

Rabbi David Rosenn, New Israel Fund

Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Nigel Savage, Hazon

Michael Schmidt, American Jewish Committee New York

Dr. Robert L. Schneider, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work

Rabbi Ethan Seidel, Tifereth Israel Congregation, Washington, DC

Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Shirat HaNefesh, Chevy Chase, MD

Rabbi Susan N. Shankman, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Washington, DC

Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, Maryland Hillel

Marilyn Sneiderman, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps

Robert Socolof, American Jewish Committee Long Island

Rabbi Peter Stein, Cranston, Rhode Island

Rabbi Alana Suskin, Rockville, MD

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Ann Toback, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, Uri L’Tzedek