B’nai Tikvah Stands With Families

Dear Friends,

This coming Shabbat morning, we will have the honor of hearing the weekly Haftarah portion chanted by a young woman becoming Bat Mitzvah. Thankfully, this is not a rare occasion in the life of our synagogue. However, the contrast between the words she will chant and the conditions of the world in which she will chant them is rare.

The words are from the prophet Micah: “God has told you what is good and what is required of you/ To do justice/ To love mercy/ And to walk humbly with your God.”[1]

The calamity unfolding at our southern border flies blatantly and violently in the face of Micah’s verses. Congregation B’nai Tikvah joins with synagogues across the country, with our Contra Costa interfaith community and with the leadership of the Reform movement in soundly condemning separation of children from their parents crossing into our country to seek asylum from life threatening conditions in their own.

Rabbi David Stern, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, writes with his typical eloquence:

“… If witnessing (this) has been traumatic, we can only begin to imagine the pain of those who suffered it directly: the parents and children whose wails tear at our hearts. The name of this policy, “Zero Tolerance,” is Orwellian at best. The practice of ripping children from their parents at the border is not Zero Tolerance. It is Zero Compassion. It is Zero Wisdom… It is Zero Coherence because it expends security resources indiscriminately, instead of focusing them on the populations who might put us at risk. It has been a violation of core Jewish values, and an affront to the American values of which Dreamers dream.”

Our congregation is one that is already driven by Judaism’s conscience and moral anchors. We do not lack for members who are energetic and eager to help. Different modes of engaging abound to fit the many needs (see the end of this message) engendered by this crisis: legal aid, gathering and sending practical supplies to Texas, calling our elected officials, and rallying in every sense of the word. Our hearts are broken, but our hands will be compassionate, and our voices will be heard. As descendants of immigrants ourselves, as part of a people who were nearly annihilated and do not forget, the time is now to walk in the footsteps of our prophets like Micah, to recognize a common humanity in the face of the other, and to counter cruelty with love and hope.

Rabbi Rebecca Gutterman
Cantor Jennie Chabon
Dan Lapporte, President of CBT
Alison Negrin and David Ratner, Co-chairs of CBT’s Social Action Committee

The following is an edited list of ways we can take action from our Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center. For further actions and updates, or to sign up for anything below, please visit https://rac.org/blog/2018/06/19/eight-ways-take-jewish-action-around-family-separation.

  1. Provide tangible support to detainees and separated families by gathering and sending care packages to the border. See below for needed items (new or gently used only, please). Send care packages to: Michael Blum Social Action Chair, Temple Emanuel, 4300 Chai Street (North C Street) McAllen, Texas 78504.
    • Deodorant for men and women
    • Women’s underwear in sizes 5-6
    • Women’s bras and sports bras in 32-36
    • Maternity pants
    • Women’s pants in sizes 7 and below
    • Women’s tops in small sizes
    • Children’s shoes in all sizes, particularly athletic shoes
    • Toiletries (must be new)
    • Pedialyte

    You can bring anything from this list to CBT, where we’ll have a box outside of the office for you to leave it until Tuesday July 3. On Friday July 6 at 3:00pm, join us in the Social Hall where we will package up items and deliver them to the Post Office together. We’ll then meet back at Civic Park at 5:45pm to celebrate Shabbat together.

  2. In California join our allies at Faith in Action (PICO California) for a weekend of faithful action at the border in San Diego to protest the immoral and inhumane policies that have caused family separation.
  3. Send a letter demanding that President Trump, Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen, and Attorney General Sessions end family separation now. Tell them the Reform Jewish community rejects this inhumane policy.
  4. Organize or join a rally outside your local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
  5. Register for the North American Immigrant Justice Campaign’s Deportation Defense Training on July 10, 2018.

[1] Micah 6:8.