In response to the Jan. 27 executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, we stand with our major religious movements, national Jewish organizations, and many local synagogues in expressing deep concern with the President’s order.
As Jews we have a unique relationship to the plight of the refugee and the suffering of those fleeing war and persecution. Searing images of Syrian families digging out from bombed houses, of frightened children cowering in the arms of their parents or washed up on shore as they desperately seek safety remind us of our own history and the world’s indifference. Many of our parents and grandparents came to this country at the turn of the last century fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe. Many Holocaust survivors, lucky to have gained entry to the United States, settled in our communities. They were saved by American compassion and contributed to America’s greatness. They bear witness to the horrors of genocide, the tragedy of doors being shut, and the obligation of Jewish people to stand for what is right, moral, and principled. Sadly, many others who desperately tried to reach our shores 75 years ago were denied entry and were sent back to Europe to their deaths.
We firmly support our nation’s obligation and responsibility to protect our borders and defend our people. But defending our country also means defending its character. Protecting our freedoms and safeguarding cherished values — both American and Jewish — remind us to welcome the stranger and respond with empathy and compassion.
As a Jewish Federation we strongly uphold the values of tolerance and respect for all people regardless of their religion, nationality, or ethnicity. We support comprehensive immigration reform that balances the need to protect our country with a commitment to those who seek shelter and refuge. Through our local partner agencies Jewish Vocational Service and Jewish Family Service of both MetroWest and Central NJ, as well as the national Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), we are helping to resettle refugee families.
We urge our community to work together to support these cherished freedoms, to support communal efforts to educate ourselves, and find opportunities to meet with refugees who have settled locally.