Here are the remarks I shared as part of "A Dream for All", a public press conference in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Sponsored by TAP, a local community organizing group, the event was held at the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center on Wednesday, February 6. As rabbi of Temple Beth-El, current president of the United Religious Community of St. Joseph County, and especially as a life-long progressive Jew, it was an honor to participate.
“When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who dwell with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19: 33-34).
With these words of Biblical encouragement, Jewish tradition demands that we reach out to the “stranger”, “newcomer”, “outsider”, or “other” and include them in the embrace of our society. Though times and situations have certainly changed since these words were first written, and even since the time my family came here just a few generations ago - it remains our sacred obligation to provide and ensure the same opportunities to those who, like each of our families, hoped to create a better and more meaningful life in the United States.
I stand here as the proud offspring of immigrants to America, as do most among us. And I know it is my obligation to support the effort to accomplish meaningful reform to our immigration policy. As shared by Barbara Weinstein of our Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, in response to the Senate Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
We welcome Congress’ and the Obama Administration’s renewed commitment to immigration reform…which represents important steps toward resolving the issues that have plagued our immigration system for far too long. Our tradition commands us to welcome the stranger. This responsibility inspires us to work to fix our broken immigration system in a manner befitting our proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. Our immigration policies must be rooted in principles of human dignity, and we appreciate this past week’s proposals that advance that goal.
I know that in days to come, we can yet work to bring this goal to life.