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The Conservative movement of Judaism through its constituent organizations, including United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism of which BEKI is a member, issued a statement on January 29, 2017 in regard to the recent executive order related to immigrants and refugees. This statement and the underlying principles were discussed at length by the directors and officers at the most recent BEKI Board of Directors meeting. It was the consensus of the BEKI Board to bring this statement to the attention of the BEKI membership and community. The Board voted to support the statement and the underlying principle that action by government that is directed against a particular group defined by their religious beliefs stands against the values of Judaism.
The Board does not take such a statement lightly and does so with the understanding that this is a complex issue with many points of view and may not be speaking for its membership as a whole. That diversity of opinion and respect for each other’s beliefs is part of what makes the BEKI community a strong and vibrant one.
In that regard, this is also a time when we can come together in reasoned discourse to share opinions and ideas. BEKI will be hosting a talk to facilitate such a conversation in the coming weeks. A copy of the statement of the Conservative movement follows and can also be found on the USCJ website.
Harold M. Birn
President, Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel
on behalf of the officers and directors of the congregation
NEW YORK – The Conservative/Masorti movement of Judaism as represented by its constituent organizations listed below has issued the following statement regarding the executive order President Donald Trump signed barring many refugees and immigrants from entering the United States:
Deeply rooted in our tradition, faith, and values, we are a people of immigrants. Throughout our history we often were the stranger in a strange land and were persecuted and attacked simply for being the other. As Jews, it is not only our religious values that speak to welcoming those who seek shelter and safety, but it is also a pillar of free, democratic nations.
Our religious tradition repeatedly forbids us from oppressing the stranger. For instance, Leviticus 19:34 commands us, ‘The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ And Exodus, ‘And you shall not wrong a stranger, neither shall you oppress them; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ It is a betrayal of Jewish history and our own Jewish values to stand quiet as victims of war and terror are left helpless — especially on the basis of religion.
The protracted war in Syria has created 7 million displaced persons within Syria alone and millions more throughout the Middle East, with refugees escaping through Turkey, the Balkans and Europe. Meanwhile, millions of undocumented immigrants in America live in fear of imprisonment, deportation or worse. The Conservative movement has continuously and consistently advocated for the rights of immigrants including pathways to citizenship and family reunification as a top priority. We call on the US government to reject policy proposals that would halt, limit, or curtail refugee resettlement in the U.S. or prioritize certain refugees over others; and urge President Trump and the U.S. Congress to instead take bold leadership by providing robust funding to support refugees around the world as well as provide necessary resources to refugees who are already resettled in the U.S.
Most importantly, the Conservative Movement completely rejects the targeting of individuals based on their religion. As Jews, it is an affront to our fundamental values. We are all enriched by the diverse set of experiences that immigrants bring to our society. We see it not only throughout our economy and educational system, but also in our synagogues, camps, schools, and institutions where people of diverse backgrounds, countries of origin and experiences come together to pray to the same God, who sees us all as equals. To do otherwise betrays the Jewish values we find deeply engrained in our faith and history.