8 Ways to Take Jewish Action around Family Separation

June 20, 2018Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

As the Talmud reminds us: “By the breath of children God sustains the world.” - Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b

In May 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would adopt a zero-tolerance policy for unauthorized border crossings, officially instituting practices that separate children from their families. This policy applies to all border crossings, even to those people seeking asylum.

As a Reform Jewish community, we are heartbroken and horrified.

At the core of our faith is choice. Each day, we choose to live out the teachings and traditions of our faith that give meaning and purpose to our lives. What is happening at our border is also a choice. It is a choice to separate parents from children when one could choose to keep families together.

As a community, we have also made a choice.

We choose to stand with families fleeing violence and persecution. In just the past few days, we have come together as a community to demand an end to the Trump Administration’s unjust policy of family separation, coordinating a Jewish community letter to Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen and protesting alongside our interfaith partners outside the office of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, June 20, seven Reform Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner of the Religious Action Center and Rabbi David Stern of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, will travel to McAllen, TX, to protest and bear witness to the families torn apart and the 2,000 children left in limbo.

Many have reached out searching for ways to help end this family separation policy and support the children and families being torn apart. Here are eight things you can do right now:

  1. Provide support to detainees and separated families by sending cash donations (donations of good are no longer being accepted) for the respite center in McAllen, TX, to buy necessary items. See this post from our Reform synagogue in McAllen to learn how and where to make a cash donation.
  2. Join a Families Belong Together mobilization in Washington, D.C., or hundreds of other cities around the U.S. on June 30, 2018. Find an event near you
  3. Bring a congregational delegation to McAllen, TX, home to the United States' largest immigration detention center. To do so, reach out to Rabbi Claudio Kogan of Temple Emanuel in McAllen, who is eager for visitors to see this border community firsthand.
  4. 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.
  5. Organize or join a rally outside your local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Find your local ICE office.
  6. Register for the North American Immigrant Justice Campaign's Deportation Defense Training on July 10, 2018. For more information about how to join this campaign, please visit RAC.org/naijc and download the RAC's Immigrant Justice Resource Guide.
  7. 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. 
  8. Say a prayer. Integrate one of these three prayers for the children at our borders into your Jewish observance.

We will continue to update this list as more opportunities become available. Thank you for your commitment to keeping families together.

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