Dear Friends,

Earlier in the week I called the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society to ask if there is an immigrant family that we, as a congregation, could help to settle in the Westchester area. The answer was “no,” as the current Executive Order calls for a 120-day ban on desperate refugees coming into our country.

While we hear of “better vetting,” I believe that our new policy is excessive and unnecessary, not to mention the moral issue involved. Every refugee who comes to the United States goes through an 18 to 24-month month period of screening (vetting) prior to being given the “green card.”

For us as Jews, this policy of closed immigration is an affront to our values, all the more so because this “order” was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. How can we not remember what closed borders meant to so many of our own people as they were fleeing oppression and the threat of death?

Interesting and very telling: Israel’s Interior Minister has just given approval to grant refuge to one-hundred Syrian children who have been orphaned by that country’s bloody civil war. In his statement, Minister Deri speaks of absorbing these children “on humanitarian grounds in order to rescue them from the horrors and afford them good and normal lives in Israel.”

“Give me your tired and your weary” declares our Statue of Liberty. “Remember the heart of the stranger” declares our Jewish tradition. Let us not be bystanders. Rather let us be “upstanders” in the quest to open our doors to those, who like our own ancestors, seek the opportunities and the values for which the United States must stand if we are to be worthy as a country.

Shabbat shalom,   

         Rabbi David Greenberg