Rabbinic Statement on Trump’s Un-American Ban on Refugees

RELEASE DATE: January 25, 2017

For Immediate Release

Contact Ayelet Hines, (202) 270-7365

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.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights brings together rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism, together with all members of the Jewish community, to act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.