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STATEMENT OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL ON IMMIGRATION, REFUGEES AND THE TRAVEL EXECUTIVE ORDER

“Do not ill-treat a stranger or oppress her, for you were strangers in Egypt. Do not oppress a stranger;  you know how it feels to be a stranger, because you were strangers in Egypt.” - Exodus


More than any other commandment in the Torah, our tradition stresses care for, and sensitivity towards, the stranger.  The message is straightforward, yet profound—just as we suffered as outsiders, we must now be vigilant in recognizing and providing for the stranger in our own midst. This belief is the core of both our faith and cultural memory.

 

Beyond the biblical narrative, Jews have experienced innumerable episodes of expulsion, migration and oppression over thousands of years. Expulsion is a common refrain in our foundational texts, and has been tragically and repeatedly reinforced from Egypt to Spain, from Germany and Poland to Russia, from Yemen to Syria. Jews have had to learn and re-learn what it means to be a refugee fleeing religious persecution.

 

In our long history of living amongst the nations, the American Jewish experience stands out. Our ancestors who made their way to the United States from North Africa, Asia and Europe in years past in search of a better life. They wanted a chance to live the American dream, in a place referred to by many European Jews as Der Goldene Medine—“The Golden Land.” The great American dream that brought our families here is the same idea on which the United States was founded—the grand belief that freedom from religious persecution and oppression can provide all people who come here with the opportunity to seek a better life.

 

It is with these values and experiences in mind and heart that we critically view the new administration’s recent Executive Order on immigration. Without a doubt, the safety and security of our nation and its inhabitants are of critical importance. However, the substance and the language of the Executive Order and its surrounding rhetoric clearly serve to single out Muslims and the Islamic faith, as well as particular nationalities.

 

Bracketing the question of whether this will ultimately make Americans more or less safe, we as the Jewish Community Relations Council, representing the Jewish community of Greater New Orleans, strenuously reject the order. Our faith, tradition, and historical experiences compel us to do. The immigrants and refugees to whom the order denies entry are just like our own family members who once sought entry and acceptance into America to seek a better life. And one cannot think of any greater example of the biblical “stranger” than an individual or family of refugees who must leave everything in his or her native land in search of liberty, safety and better fortune in a foreign one.

 

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Orleans stands in solidarity with our Muslim-American neighbors and visitors, and with those immigrants and refugees currently seeking entry into the United States. We call on all Jews to reject Islamophobia and ethno-nationalism in our community and on the national level. We must remember that we too were once strangers in a strange land, and strive constantly to protect and advocate for those in the same situation today.

One of the central tenets of Judaism is the value of tikkun olam, which roughly translates to a mandate that we must all do our part to repair our world and make it a better place. The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans strongly believes in this ethic, and has collaborated with Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Matt Lemmler to create a rotating series of community-wide events called Nourish: A Movement for New Orleans’ Homeless and Underserved. 

 

Our next event will take place on February 20, when we bring Mardi Gras to Covenant House New Orleans. From 3:00-7:00 p.m., volunteers will work to bring a great meal and the spirit of Carnival to Covenant House’s clients and residents. Covenant House has provided more than 20,000 youth with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, educational and vocational support, individual and family counseling, job readiness and placement, short & long-term housing, life skills, and more. Thanks to Jacque-Imo’s and Haydel’s Bakery, we’ll kick off the final week of Mardi Gras in style. How can you get involved?

 

Donate, volunteer or contribute travel-sized cleaning and toiletries items - there are bins in the lobby at both the Uptown Jewish Community Center and the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus.

  • Edie & Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel

    A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in your child's Jewish development - and the Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program can unlock this experience. Together with the the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and area synagogues, your child's Israel experience is closer than you realize.

    Learn more here.

    A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in your child's Jewish development - and the Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program can unlock this experience. Together with the the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and area synagogues, your chil...

    Learn more here.

    A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in your child's Jewish development - and the Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program can unlock this exper...

    Learn more here.

    A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in your child's Jewish development - and th...

    Learn more here.

    A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in ...

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    With support from Federations’ Negev Now initiative, the emerging field of creative placemaking has helped these Israeli kids transform from victims of trauma to creative builders and designers of a better future.

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    With support from Federations’ Negev Now initiative, the emerging field of creative placemaking has helped these Israeli kids transform from victims of trauma to creative builders and d...

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UPCOMING IN NEW ORLEANS

Feb

20

Federation-Social Action Dinner with Jazz

Covenant House 611 N Rampart St,
New Orleans, LA 70112

Feb

20

Touro Synagogue Board Meeting

Touro Synagogue 4238 St Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115

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