Many of Boston’s most important Jewish institutions issued a strongly worded statement Monday opposing President Trump’s executive orders on refugees and immigration and urging elected officials to do everything possible to protect those affected by the orders.
The statement, issued by the Jewish Community Relations Council on behalf of 17 organizations, said Jews have a religious obligation to help “the stranger,” beginning with their experience in ancient times as slaves in Egypt.
“Why should you not hate the stranger? — asks the Torah,” the statement said, quoting Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of Britain. “Because you once stood where the stranger stands now.”
Groups that signed the statement include AJC New England, the Anti-Defamation League, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts.
Jews have a long tradition of welcoming strangers to this country, the statement said; Jewish Vocational Service is serving about 500 refugee clients in Boston, and Jewish Family Service of Metrowest is leading a group of synagogues in resettling refugee families, some of whom have not arrived. “All of these families are experiencing a great deal of anxiety and pain, and, for those who may be prevented from arriving, the potential for additional great suffering,” the statement said.
The statement noted that many American Jews came to the United States fleeing oppression to pursue their dreams and practice their faith freely. It pointed obliquely to the many European Jews who wanted to immigrate to the United States but died in the Holocaust because they were unable to secure the proper paperwork.
“Our community,” the statement said, “knows all too well the suffering that comes when America turns away refugees.”