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The subjects of immigration, the treatment of undocumented residents living within national borders and the absorption of refugees are highly politically charged issues in our time. The developed and economically privileged countries of North America and Europe are questioning how to balance the obligations of social responsibility with national security and economic justice for citizens.
Although the Jewish communities of North America are living in an era of unprecedented success and security, we remain acutely sensitive to our own immigrant and refugee experiences. Ours is a history of moving from place to place searching for a better future for our children. At best, we have voluntarily travelled to new lands in hope of opportunity. At worst, we have fled bigotry, pogroms and genocide. Often, we have encountered the challenges of integrating into a new society and practicing a minority faith.
As we try to understand the complexities of refugee politics, immigration economics and security from terrorism, we are guided by the immutable values of Torah and Talmud.
Whereas, Judaism requires of us that we not be bystanders in the face of injustice: “Do not stand by your neighbor’s blood.” (Leviticus 19:16) And further, that we have an obligation of Tikun Olam. (To fix the world)
Whereas, The Torah repeats 36 times the tenet that we must treat the strangers in our land with empathy and love them as we love ourselves. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Whereas, We are encouraged to identify with the immigrant experience in that we remember our ancestors who were strangers in the land of Egypt and who went forth into a new land. (Exodus 13:8; Mishnah Pesachim 10:5)
Whereas, Judaism requires universal respect for human life declaring that humanity is created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) And the Talmud explains that even a single life is so valued that “he who saves one life saves the entire world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)
Therefore, be it resolved that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism believes:
Nations have a right to secure borders and an obligation to protect citizens from violence. This truth, however, should not be used to excuse bigotry.
Our community should support immigration and refugee laws and policies that are consistent with an inclusive and humane vision free from religious, racial and cultural prejudice.
We should advocate for swift responses to the needs of refugees. And, we should work to provide shelter and security to all people fleeing violence and persecution without regard to religion, race or color.
We should advocate for the empathetic treatment of those undocumented people living within our borders, so that no otherwise law-abiding person should live in fear of the law enforcement or of the disruption of families.