fbpx Please Join in the National Refugee Shabbat | Page 2 | Reconstructing Judaism

Please Join in the National Refugee Shabbat

News

Dear friends—

We are deeply moved by the resilience and clarity of the members of Pittsburgh’s Dor Hadash for their commitment to participating in HIAS’s National Refugee Shabbat again this year. We urge every Reconstructionist community to stand with Dor Hadash and HIAS this coming March by participating in this powerful program. In this way, we act on our values and gain strength from each other to create the world in which we want to live.

With blessings and appreciation,

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President
Seth Rosen, Board Chair

 


Dear Hevre,

At Congregation Dor Hadash in Pittsburgh, we are participating again this year in the National Refugee Shabbat, organized by HIAS. The dates are March 20-21, 2020. We were, of course, appalled that the perpetrator of the Oct. 27, 2018 massacre ranted about our support of HIAS and participation in the National Refugee Shabbat. And we suffered grievously from the attack. Nevertheless, participating is important for all of us.

We encourage all congregations to join HIAS’s Welcome Campaign and to hold their own National Refugee Shabbat services. All the reasons for participating last time still hold, and there are even more reasons to do so this year, including support for Jewish values, support for HIAS and standing up for our right as Jews to worship in peace.

Chapter 19 of Leviticus states, “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Anyone who has sat through a Passover seder understands our deep connection to those escaping from slavery, war or abuse because of race, religion, nationality or political opinion, which are the defining characteristics of refugees. Many American Jews came themselves as refugees or descended from people who would meet today’s definition of a refugee. Two years ago, our Social Action Committee at Dor Hadash decided to focus on helping refugees and immigrants through direct assistance via our local Jewish Family and Community Services.

But we also saw our mission as advocating for more humane policies towards refugees and asylum seekers, so we joined with HIAS. That need has only increased in the past year as the administration in Washington, D.C., has continued to reduce sharply the number of refugees admitted, has carried out an inhumane policy of family separation and has refused to let asylum-seekers enter the country while making them wait months for hearings. You may feel that your congregation is not the place to talk about “politics.” We would argue that these are questions of social policy, not of partisan politics. Christie Balka’s essay (on the Reconstructing Judaism website) “Political Activism as a Form of Prayer” says “activism requires us to make a profound statement of faith. It reflects both our highest ideals and our belief that transformation is, in fact, possible. By acting on this belief, we make it more so.”

Participating in the National Refugee Shabbat is also a way of connecting to HIAS through its Welcome Campaign, which provides materials and ideas about how to organize a service around the issue of refugees. HIAS (formerly the Hebrew International Aid Society) has a long history of aiding Jews leaving Russia and then the Soviet Union, and now works globally to support refugees of all faiths, based upon Jewish values. Their work encompasses advocacy, including protecting the rights of refugees in the United States and around the world, and direct service to refugees through 16 offices worldwide. Many congregations have their own way of supporting tikkun olam, so supporters can find ways to work with them that fit their own and their congregations’ values and priorities.

Finally, we need to stand up to the haters and assert our right to worship in peace and safety. In doing so, we uphold core Jewish and American values and rights. We cannot protect ourselves from violence by digging a hole and hiding in it. It is in that spirit that, after the attack, we recommitted ourselves to our work supporting refugees and our membership as part of HIAS’s Welcome Campaign. It is why we see participating in the National Refugee Shabbat as so important now. In sum, we need to stand together to help refugees, to support HIAS and to support our right to worship.

National Refugee Shabbat resources: www.hias.org/national-refugee-shabbat

HIAS’s Welcome Campaign resources: www.hias.org/get-involved/hias-welcome-campaign

Eve Wider
Chair, Social Action Committee
Dor Hadash, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Carolyn Ban
Former Chair, Social Action Committee
Dor Hadash, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Related Resources

News and Blogs

Reconstructionist Communities Make Disability Inclusion a Top Priority

With a welcoming ethos and a drive to break down barriers, Reconstructionist congregations and havurot have been part of a revolution that’s taken place in the public awareness of the importance of disability inclusion and related services.

News
News and Blogs

Does The Torah Require Us To Publicize Names Of Sexual Abusers?

What does Judaism teach us about how to respond to accusations of harassment or assault?

News
News and Blogs

Keeping Judaism Alive Behind Prison Walls

Serving Jewish prisoners in state prison, rabbinic students find new perspectives on freedom and responsibility.

News
News and Blogs

Let My People Stay: Jews Demand a Dream Act Now

Eighty-six Jewish activists, including six Reconstructionist rabbis, were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17 in a bold act of civil disobedience in solidarity with more than 800,000 Dreamers.

News
News and Blogs

Striving Towards Racial Justice in our Jewish Communities

Reflections on the recent Jewish Social Justice roundtable meeting on racial justice and equity.

News

Strange Thoughts: A New Take on Loving the Stranger

To truly live justly, we need to move out of our comfort zones and embrace unfamiliar ideas and habits of mind. 

Article

Shofar Kavannah for Refugees

This ritual invokes the blast of the shofar to articulate the plight of refugees. It was created for use at High Holidays in response to the presidential travel ban.

Article

Desperate Immigrants: An Ancient Jewish Story

Abraham and Sarah’s desperate journey to Egypt as refugees reminds us that remembering the heart of the stranger is at the core of Jewish experience.

Article

Addressing Race as a Jewish Community

As a time to take responsibility for communal wrongs, Yom Kippur calls us to learn about and grapple with issues of race in America.

Sermon

I Want You to Know I Am Human: Listening to the Stranger Behind Bars

Freedom from bondage frames the Jewish story. How, then, can we fail to listen to those who are now behind bars? 

Article

Hagar: The Immigrant Worker

This provocative Rosh Hashanah sermon draws parallels between Hagar, Sarah’s mistreated servant, and today’s immigrant workers.

Sermon
News and Blogs

Let's Journey Together

In an essay that appeared in Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., makes the case that Reconstructionist Judaism matters now more than ever.

News
News and Blogs

The Cornerstone of a Better World

A powerful Reconstructionist message responding to recent acts of anti-Semitism, as well as inspiring examples of the best of humanity.

News
News and Blogs

Light Through The Cracks

Rabbi Deborah Waxman reflects on finding spiritual equilibrium in a time of shifting sands.

News
News and Blogs

Just For A Time Like This

On January 29, 2017, Reconstructionist rabbis and thinkers gathered for a day of learning and study on “Moving Forward in Changing Times.” The gathering offered a range of Jewish approaches to finding spiritual strength as an activist, how to have difficult conversations with those with opposing viewpoints and how to stay sane and grounded in what feels like an avalanche of political change. 

News