Responding to Current Events in our Borders


Shalom everyone,

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly

Thanks to the profound social uproar across our nation and around the world, an executive order was signed to stop separating children from parents. However, according to CBS News correspondent David Begnaud:

“One day after [the executive order was signed] questions remain at the border: so far it’s unclear what will happen to the children that have already been separated.”

In other words, as of now, thousands of kids are still separated from their parents with no strategy to reunite them. There is still much work to be done before we can all sit down with our families to enjoy the blessed bliss of Shabbat.

Regardless of our individual political views and affiliations, as Jews we must all agree on one thing:

“The reported physical mistreatment of minors, including pregnant teens     and those who have recently given birth, as well as the separation of     children as young as 18 months old from their parents, is horrific.”

This statement was issued by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center (RAC), on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the broader Reform Movement.

Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America. Taking children away from their families inflicts unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences. These refugees are NOT criminals, and this practice of treating them as such must stop.

Our Jewish tradition calls on us to welcome the stranger, to treat immigrants fairly, and to empathize with the widow and the orphan because we, ourselves, were once strangers in the land of Egypt, and many other lands throughout our painful history.

Our people’s history reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is kindhearted and fair.

It’s true that there are immigrants who attempt to enter the U.S. illegally, and that is wrong. I, too, was an immigrant, but I went through the appropriate channels. However, I was not desperate. I was not a refugee. And I pray to God that I, my family, or anyone else I know will never be one, or become that desperate.

So while we must have laws that protect our borders even from desperate people, those laws must compassionately reflect our most fundamental moral principles.

To date, 26 national Jewish organizations and institutions have united to send a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. An excerpt:

“On behalf of the 26 undersigned national Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded ‘zero-tolerance’ policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people.”

I pray that our government will soon reunite these children with their families. I pray too that most, if not all TBT members will make their voices heard, helping to bring about the end to these harsh and harmful policies.

You can start right away!

* JoinRabbi Meeka and Dave for the Families Belong Together event in Clifton:

When: Saturday, June 30 at 1 p.m. (local time)

Where: Main Memorial Park, Clifton, NJ 07011

For more details  (Copy and Paste onto your browser)

To read more about Families Belong Together event:

* Read: “Eight Ways to Take Jewish Action Around Family Separation” which includes information about how we can donate to detainees and separated children:

Please help us to spread the call for better treatment of refugees-because that is The Jewish Way. As the Talmud reminds us:”By the breath of children God sustains the world”   (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b)

Shabbat Shalom, Shabbat of peace,

Rabbi Meeka Simerly

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