“Will you annihilate the virtuous with the wicked?” 

And Abraham came forward and said (to YHWH).  “Will you annihilate the virtuous with the wicked?  Maybe there are fifty virtuous who are in it (the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah)?  Far be it from you to do a thing like this, to kill the virtuous with wicked–and it will be the same for the virtuous and the wicked-far be it from you. Will the judge of all the earth not do justice?” Genesis 18:23-25

Here is an excerpt from a story today in The New York Times about a family impacted by Trump’s ban.

Had all gone according to plan, after an overnight flight from Doha, Qatar, Hamidyah Al Saeedi, 65, would have landed at Kennedy Airport in New York on Saturday and then boarded a connecting flight to Raleigh, N.C., to meet her son Ali Alsaeedy, whom she had not seen in five years.

It was not by chance that her new life as an American immigrant would begin in North Carolina. Her son is a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, which is based at Fort Bragg.

When she did not show up at the airport, Sgt. Alsaeedy’s immediate fear was that his mother, who does not speak English, had somehow gotten lost.

He flew to New York, where another reality awaited him. His mother was not lost: She was being held somewhere in Terminal 4 by authorities who were threatening to deport her. “They wouldn’t even let me see her,” Sgt. Alsaeedy, a newly minted American citizen, said by phone on Sunday morning from the airport, where he was still waiting for his mother.

A native of Baghdad, Sgt. Alsaeedy has been working for the American government for much of his life. After the 2003 invasion, he was an interpreter for seven years, working for the American military and the United States Agency for International Development. For his service, he eventually received a special immigrant visa and emigrated to the United States.

He joined the Army and returned to Iraq in 2015, this time as a United States soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division. “I cannot tell you what I was doing,” he said when asked about his role. All he would say was this: “The mission we were doing there, I was a part of it.”

For years, he had been filling out endless forms so that his mother and his father could join him in America. “I started the process five years ago to bring both parents to this country,” Sgt. Alsaeedy said.

In December, his father died. A few weeks later, his mother’s visa was approved. He immediately booked a flight for her. At the moment that the president signed the immigration order, at 4:42 p.m. in Washington on Friday, she was probably waiting to board her flight in Doha.

The ban issued by the president is arbitrary, sudden, and cruel.  I also believe it is counter to American interests and will not keep us safe from terrorism. 

As a Jew I am outraged by the President’s action.  Abraham’s “hagasha” coming forward to God, sets a precedent for us to come forward and protest this cruel order.  As an American and a descendent of immigrants I find this action reprehensible and contrary to the powerful words expressed by another Jew that are engraved on the Statue of Liberty.  

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Yesterday, I spoke with my adult children who are fighting despair over the reckless acts of this new administration.  We had an extended discussion on what these times will demand of us and ultimately, what the God of Abraham demands of us.  It is time “l’hagish” to come forward to protest and to work together with others to reverse these evil decrees. 

I hope you will join with me. 

Please share my words with others who may take them to heart, and please share with me  your thoughts about what the present moment demands at dov@panimhadashot or in the comment section to the Panim Hadashot Blog at www.panimhadashot.org. 

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Panim Hadashot-New Faces

Monday, January 30, 2017

 

 

Hospitality and this Week’s Executive Orders on Immigration

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is a unique organization in the Jewish community that is focused on revitalizing Jewish hospitality traditions.  We believe that hospitality is not only a critical spiritual practice.  It also has important ethical implications on how we treat the stranger.   As leader of Panim Hadashot, I feel moved to react with alarm and concern to this week’s Executive Orders on Immigration.

I have signed onto to a statement which I have appended below which clearly states my objection to these orders and deep concern for the impact these orders will have on millions of people and the reputation of the United States around the world.  Please join me in objecting to the emerging policy on immigration by the new administration.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

The Faith Action Network of Washington State

Statement on President’s New Executive Orders on Immigration

 

The Faith Action Network of Washington State strongly opposes the Trump Administration’s executive orders to drastically restrict refugee admissions to the United States, especially from war-torn nations like Syria; build a barrier wall at the southern border of the United States; and aggressively pursue and deport unauthorized immigrants. We join with millions of Americans of all faiths, leaders of local and state government, and other community leaders to say we will step up our own efforts to provide direct support to immigrants and refugees who are threatened by these new policies, and organize our faith communities to challenge these policies through nonviolent means.

We believe these new executive orders violate our cherished religious values and what it means to be an American. ­­­­­­­­­­As people of faith, we are called to love and serve our neighbors from near and far, particularly those most vulnerable to violence and persecution. We honor the God who commands that “the alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens…” As Americans we know the great contributions that immigrants and refugees make to our nation’s culture, history and economy, enriching our life together. Welcoming the stranger is at the heart of the American story.

Therefore, we call upon President Trump to uphold our shared American values and rescind his new executive orders. We call upon the members of our own faith communities to speak out and act in support of refugees and the neighbors among us who may face deportation. We offer our support to elected leaders and local law enforcement agencies that refuse to be part of implementing aggressive deportation policies on behalf of the federal government.

As leaders of diverse faith traditions, we have come to know that our differences are a blessing and that love can cast out fear. We must act boldly for the vision of an America, where the most vulnerable are protected and welcomed.