The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
WASHINGTON - On Tuesday, June 19, Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism joined a group of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish women for a vigil outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters to pray and speak out against the Trump administration's policy of family separation at the border.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
My name is Barbara Weinstein and I am the Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, part of the largest denomination in American Jewish life, with 1.5 million congregants, 2000 rabbis and 900 congregations.
At the core of our faith is choice. Each day, we choose to live out the teachings and traditions of our faith that give meaning and purpose to our lives, that connect us to each other in what Rev. Martin Luther King called a “single garment of destiny.”
We choose between blessings and curses. We choose between light and darkness. We choose between acts that hurt and acts of loving kindness.
What is happening at our border is also a choice. It is a choice to build walls when one could choose to build compassion. It is a choice to separate parents from children when one could choose to keep families together. It is a choice to deport parents and leave their children in legal limbo.
These are the wrong choices. It is the wrong choice for the families who are being broken. It is the wrong choice for the thousands of children who are being traumatized. It is the wrong choice for this nation founded and strengthened by immigrants for more than two centuries.
70 years ago, my grandparents fled Europe carrying my infant mother and two battered suitcases. All that they owned. The horrors that forced them to flee their home and the trauma of the journey itself stayed with them throughout their lives. Today, I carry a piece of that pain within me.
Let us not be fooled that the more than 2000 children who have been taken from their parents in just the last few weeks will not be irreparably shaped by this trauma. Let us not pretend that the families torn apart by the Administration’s policies will heal in this generation or even the next.
We are here today because we are also making a choice. We choose to stand with families fleeing violence and persecution. We choose to reject a false narrative about why the inhumane policy of family separation is happening. We choose to say to the President, the Vice President, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, the Attorney General who in words, deeds and even through their silence are allowing this moral abomination to occur: end the policy of family separation today.
We are here today because we choose to live by the words of the Talmud that remind us: “By the breath of children God sustains the world" (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b).
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.