As a non-partisan organization concerned with the entire Jewish community, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey rarely comments on politically-based issues. Our primary focus is supporting the vulnerable and our extended Jewish family at home and abroad, as guided by Jewish values of justice and caring.
Given the parallels between history and the headlines of today, many in the Jewish community are looking to the Jewish Federation to make a statement about the new United States travel policies enacted this week. We would like to state the following:
The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey values security in our community, our country, and our world. This has been demonstrated through our expanded investments in security preparedness with partners throughout our area.
The Jewish Federation also values helping those in need and those who are persecuted. Our tradition teaches us that we were once strangers in a strange land and we have an obligation to care for the stranger and oppressed in our midst.
Jews of all political views are sensitive to the plight of those fleeing persecution. One of the lessons from the Holocaust was and is: Never again. This refers to persecution based on ethnicity or identity, but equally to the indifference of a world that stood by and watched for too long before meaningful action was taken.
We appreciate those community members and elected officials who are trying their best to translate these values into action. We respect those who are focused on the value of security with an approach they believe will protect American citizens – and we honor those who are focused on the value of embracing the oppressed; they demonstrate the Jewish community’s rich tradition of advocacy, civic involvement and dissent through democratic processes.
We urge everyone to keep in mind both values as they debate policy.
At the same time, as we as a country and community struggle with balancing values and goals, we want to highlight a third important Jewish value – respect for both sides in an argument. As it says in the Babylonian Talmud (Eruvin 13a) regarding an argument for the sake of heaven: “these and these are the words of the living God.”
The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey
Additionally, we want to share 3 links with important background considered in developing this statement:
A Smithsonian article about how Jewish refugees were treated before and during the Holocaust: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/us-government-turned-away-thousands-jewish-refugees-fearing-they-were-nazi-spies-180957324/
Specifics from the US Department of Homeland Security on the new travel policies: https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states
A compendium of national Jewish organizations that have issued statements: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/223242/jewish-groups-across-the-spectrum-unite-in-condemnation-of-trumps-refugee-ban