The following statement was issued by the Rabbinical Association in the Heart of New Jersey (RAHNJ), in response to the recent executive order on refugees. The opinions expressed are those of the RAHNJ.
On Friday, January 27th, the world observed the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2005 the United Nations declared that this date should be observed to remember the horrors of the Shoah (the Holocaust). The declaration’s purpose was to keep the world from ever forgetting what happens when we target groups of people. In 2008, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon argued, “The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights.” On this very same date on the calendar, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order banning immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations from entering or returning to the United States. While we recognize the responsibility of our government to protect our homeland from terrorism, we declare with moral certainty that this is not the way. Our nation is grounded on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty and that each person has the inalienable right to liberty and justice. This order roots in fear mongering, and especially, on this day, displays the ultimate of disregard for the value of human rights.
Torah demands that we love our neighbors as we want to be loved. Our tradition teaches that even in standing up for our own rights, we must equally stand for the rights of our neighbor. There can be no peace for one, where there is strife with one another. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the rights to dignity are inalienable. The Executive Order demeans the teachings of our faith and of our nation’s founding intentions. We stand with each other, irrespective of race, religion, or national origin to affirm that the blessings of love and compassion that build a strong nation must triumph over the fears that drive us from each other and destroy our union. Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain concur with our outrage, jointly stating, “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
We must all pledge to stand and be heard in the face of bigotry and hate. We must pledge to call people into account for the hate speech and insensitivity that perpetuates the fear and madness. As Rabbis, we believe with perfect faith that the coming of peace to this world depends on our commitment to dignify and cherish each other. We can accept nothing less and still call ourselves people of faith.
NAMES OF RABBIS
Rabbi Ari Saks, President
Rabbi David Vaisberg, Vice President
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, Secretary
Rabbi Esther Reed – Exec. Member at Large
Rabbi Philip Bazeley
Rabbi Eli Garfinkel
Rabbi Dov Goldberg
Rabbi Marc Kline
Rabbi Laurence Malinger
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
Rabbi Melinda Panken
Rabbi Eric Rosin
Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun
Rabbi Shira Stern
Rabbi Don Weber
Rabbi Robert Wolkoff
Rabbi Gerald Zelizer
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