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Jewish Community Statements on Immigration

Published Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Levine JCC supports the statements on Immigration made by our colleagues at the JCRI, JCCA, Temple Beth El and Temple Israel.

Our Community's Response to President Trump's Executive Order
Written by: Rabbi Knight of Temple Beth El and Rabbi Ezring of Temple Israel 

Last weekend, the United States commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. In a written statement to the nation, honoring the victims of Nazi Atrocities, our government failed to mention Jews as victims. Although there were many who perished, the holocaust was a war against the existence of the Jewish People. Many of us were reminded of how little value the world – even America – felt Jewish lives had in the middle of the 20th century. We remember our relatives being banned from entering the United States. Our land of freedom turned Jews away and sent them back to an uncertain fate in Europe.

Over the weekend, both the Conservative and Reform Movements issued strongly worded statements, condemning the Executive Order banning immigration from seven nations with majority Muslim populations (see below). How can we respond differently? We understand what happens to refugees seeking a safe haven who are turned away. It happened to us!

We have reached out to friends in the Muslim community here in Charlotte. Our neighbors, our friends, are frightened. Their sense of insecurity is palpable. We as the Charlotte Jewish Community must reach out to our Muslim Community and let them know that we stand together. We share their fear of growing Islamophobia. We, whose families survived the Holocaust, have sworn that it will never happen again. 

Therefore, we stand with those targeted for their religious beliefs. We will support, comfort, and express our friendship. We understand fear of persecution and the threat to personal security. We will continue to stretch out our arms in fellowship as we express our deep commitment and faith in a free and democratic United States.

Rabbi Asher Knight, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth El
Rabbi Murray Ezring, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel

Please read the statements from each of our movements:

Reform Movement Denounces President Trump's Executive Order Barring Entry From Several Muslim-Majority Countries
Conservative Movement Condemns President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees


Jewish Community Refugee Initiative Opposes Executive Orders Targeting Immigrants and Refugees
Written by: The Jewish Community Refugee Initiative 

The Jewish Community Refugee Initiative, a collaborative effort of many Jewish Institutions in Charlotte, passionately opposes President Trump’s executive orders that would stop entry for refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, halt federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” and expand detention for immigrants and asylum seekers.

We are very respectful of this administration’s and every administration’s authority and responsibility to secure our nation’s borders and to protect the safety and security of its citizens. Those objectives are legitimate and paramount.  At the same time, however, we strongly believe that this can and must be accomplished without abandoning the historic commitment shared by the Jewish community and all Americans to welcoming immigrants and treating refugees with compassion.

Guided by our history as refugees and our shared biblical and prophetic mandate to protect and welcome the stranger, the American Jewish community has always been a stakeholder in refugee resettlement and protection. Moreover, the moral concept of sanctuary for those who fear death at the hands of repressive regimes is ingrained in the Jewish tradition. Our deeply held value of B’Tzelem Elochim, teaches us that everyone is created in the image of God and it is this value, along with many others, that drives us to work to ensure that America remains a beacon of light to all who need her shelter. 

Throughout our history, the United States has been a beacon of hope for persecuted people. Resettled refugees have a historical track record of embracing American values and boosting the economies of the communities where they settle. Now, when there are more refugees in the world than at any other time in recorded history, we cannot betray some of our country’s most basic values.

The JCRI understands the complex issues of national security. They must be addressed in a reasonable and compassionate way without undermining one of our nation’s core traditions — providing a home for immigrants.

The JCRI works directly with local Charlotte agencies who provide a warm welcome for refugees who have passed the most thorough vetting process of any group of foreigners seeking to come to our country, and applauds the statements from many Jewish and non-Jewish groups that are now speaking out on this issue.


JCC Association Statement on Immigration
Written by: Chris Strom

The first Jewish Community Centers were founded more than a century ago to teach Jews, newly arrived as immigrants, how to become good Americans. We succeeded in that mission, and Jews have served this land proudly through the decades, as civilians and in the military, contributing to the arts, the sciences, to government, business, and all facets of community—to the very fabric of American life.

We continue in this mission today. Informed by Jewish values, Jewish Community Centers, open to all and welcoming, provide a connection to anyone who seeks it. Through social, cultural, educational and recreational activities, we provide an inclusive and diverse environment that works to create community and provide sustenance and welcome to all—including newly arrived immigrants. They continue to flock to this country today, seeking the things that Jews themselves still want: opportunity, safety, education and a chance to dream and better themselves within the American framework.

JCC Association and JCCs will be there for those seeking refuge in their time of need. The United States is a beacon of hope to immigrants of all faiths and nationalities. They are what has made us great and will continue to do so.

The Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus, wrote:

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Her words are emblazoned on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Let them forever ring true.

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