Published: January 30, 2017
We write to you as leaders of this diverse congregation. For almost 150 years, Temple Emanu-El has provided a voice of conscience and a welcoming home to those who seek meaning here, spanning age, race, political affiliation, sexuality, religious practice and more. In distinction to prevailing trends in today’s society, we strive to be a place of civility, mutual respect and loving kindness. In contrast to a polemical atmosphere of division and anger, our congregation represents recognitions from the heart of Jewish spirituality: We need each other. We are responsible for each other. We are interconnected, woven into a single fabric of existence.
Our Torah teaches, and we read aloud every Yom Kippur afternoon: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I the Lord am your God.”
And that is why we share this message with you: to proclaim Temple Emanu-El’s stance in favor of immigration rights in this great nation of the United States of America, and in strongest opposition to the Executive Order signed by the President on January 27, 2017. In expressing our opposition, we join with scores of Jewish organizations from across the Jewish and political spectrum: the rabbinic and congregational organizations of the Reform movement, the Conservative movement and the Orthodox movement, as well as the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, HIAS (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the Jewish Public Affairs Council, American Jewish World Service, and more. We join with leaders on the left and the right. And of course we join with our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters, and leaders of all faiths, who share these convictions. We join with the experience of our ancestors and the conscience of our history.
Familiar with the terror of violence, we affirm the imperative of security, and support the rigorous vetting that is already in place for refugees and immigrants who would seek entry to America.But we oppose restrictions specifically targeted at Muslim-majority countries, and restrictions that deny freedom to innocents without increasing the safety of our citizens.
Our people know too well what it means to have the door of freedom, sanctuary and opportunity slammed in our faces when we are at our most desperate. Our people know too well what it means to be subjected to religious loyalty tests, or to have our prospects defined by the prejudices of others. We do not assume nobility or privilege as the result of our past suffering. We do assume responsibility.
As we did last week, we will continue to offer our congregants opportunities to support immigration rights, and to live out the Jewish obligation to protect the stranger. We also encourage you to participate in the action initiatives of HIAS, and to check the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for updates.
We encourage your feedback to this letter. We are a large and diverse community, and as your leaders we hardly expect unanimity on this or any other issue. But we know what we do share: a common commitment to uphold the sacred ethical core of our tradition. May we do so together, and together may we go from strength to strength.
Mark Zilbermann, President
Rabbi David Stern
- Hear Rabbis Debra Robbins and Kimberly Herzog Cohen's Shabbat sermons from Shabbat on January 3, 2017. Rabbi Robbins' sermon begins at minute 48:43 of the Feb. 3 Union Prayer book Service; Rabbi Herzog Cohen's begins at minute 46:16 of the Feb. 3 Stern Chapel Service. Click the name to read Rabbi Robbins and Rabbi Herzog Cohen's sermon.
- Visit the HIAS website to keep up with Jewish response to President Trump’s executive order.
- Volunteer. Are you familiar with immigration law? Email Mary Spector, Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the SMU Civil Clinic, if you are able to offer legal services.