Dear TBC Community,

Over the last several weeks, I have spoken with many members of our community who are heartbroken and infuriated by the treatment of immigrant families who are being detained as they enter our country.  I have felt anger and helplessness myself as I have watched reports of thousands of children being torn from their families and have heard stories of people seeking asylum being punished for their attempt to reach safety.  These emotions have sometimes been so powerful that I have found myself pushing my work aside so that I could pour my feelings into a sermon or a prayer.

I have watched with pride as faith communities have stood up against the cruel and unethical treatment of immigrant families.  The Reform Movement joined with more than three hundred Jewish organizations in endorsing a letter to the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security which states,

"Our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people's history as 'strangers' reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just."

Additionally, I was proud to add my name to Bend the Arc's recent statement, "We Declare A Moral Emergency," which includes this galvanizing and important message:

"The Jewish community, like many others, knows all too well what it looks like for a government to criminalize the most vulnerable, to lie and obfuscate to justify grossly immoral practices under the banner of 'the law,' to interpret holy scripture as a cover for human cruelty, to normalize what can never be made normal. We have seen this before.   When crying children are taken from their parents' arms, the American Jewish community must not remain silent."

Over and over again, our Torah reminds us to hold the stranger in our hearts because we know what it means to live as strangers in unfamiliar lands.  Our people's journeys through this world support this ancient teaching.  After all, it was not so long ago that many of us had family members arrive in this country carrying only their memories of persecution and their desperate hope for their family's future.  

I urge all of us to remember our history and our tradition's teachings.  I urge all of us to refuse to be silent.

The process of addressing this crisis will most likely be exhausting and will take enormous time and effort.  But the magnitude of this work should not deter us from taking the first steps.

Here are several things that you can do right now:

1. Read about the work that the Reform Movement is doing to understand the situation and to protect immigrant families:

2.  Follow suggestions from trustworthy organizations are making about how to help these families.

3.  Donate to organizations that are working to support families being held within these detention facilities.

4.  Call your political leaders and tell them what you think about the way our country is treating these vulnerable adults and children.  Make sure that your voice heard.

Because we believe that the just, ethical, and kind treatment of the stranger is a moral and religious imperative, Temple B'nai Chaim will follow the teaching of Isaiah who said, "Cry aloud; do not be silent. Lift up your voice like a shofar." (Isaiah 58:1) and will join in one of the hundreds of protests that will take place across the country on June 30th (click here for a full list).   

These demonstrations are meant to show the leadership of our country that we demand that immigrant families are treated justly, that those seeking asylum are not punished for attempting to escape danger and violence, that parents and children are never torn apart by hateful policies, and that our government cease perpetrating cruelty in our names.

TBC will be joining the protest in Fairfield at 11am on Saturday, June 30th (details about the event can be found here).  We will meet in front of the Sherman Green Parking Lot (next to our destination- 1451 Post Road, Fairfield CT) at 10:30am. If you would like to make or bring signs expressing Jewish values, you can find examples and resources at Truah and Bend the Arc.

Because we want to encourage as many members of our community as possible to join us on Saturday, we have rescheduled next weekend's Pride-themed Torah Study class.  It will now take place on July 7th.  This means that our celebration of Pride Month will begin this Friday (June 29th) with our annual Pride Shabbat and will then extend into the first weekend of July.
I want to conclude this letter with Rabbi Tarfon's teaching from Pirke Avot.  He said,
"It is not up to us to finish the work, but neither are we free to desist from it."

We will continue working and praying for a brighter and more just tomorrow.


Rabbi Rachel Bearman