The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
By Rabbi Peter Berg
The New Year has given us a new chance to promote justice throughout the world, and a new chance to help in the holy work being done by Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR), who have been hard at work to save a father from deportation. This new year, start off 5775 justly by taking 10 minutes to show that Reform rabbis stand up for justice.
ROR’s work on immigration reform has shown us all how families are torn apart by deportation. Mothers, fathers, and grandparents without documents are sent back to countries ravaged by drug cartels and poverty, far away from the families that depend on them. Deportation is an important part of border enforcement, but we have learned that too many innocent people are caught in the system. The good news is that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) legally has the right to use discretion about whom to deport. And, ROR has seen that ICE actually will exercise that discretion – if they hear from enough people.
We’ve already had important victories where our Reform brothers and sisters have changed the lives of immigrants facing deportation! In August, ROR helped give Yestel Velasquez, a local civil rights leader, at least another year in New Orleans with his wife. Two weeks later, New Jersey rabbis helped ensure that Catalino Guerrero, an ailing grandfather, could stay with his children and grandchildren in the US, his home of 23 years. And just last week, ROR played a critical role in keeping Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez – a father of four and the primary caregiver for his son with severe cerebral palsy – in the country.
There is another father supporting his family who needs us: Luis Lopez Acabal. Mr. Lopez been in the US for seven years, and he has taken in his wife's two US citizen children, one of whom has autism, as his own. Mr. Lopez is the sole breadwinner, which allows his wife Maria to act as full time caregiver for their son with autism. Luis has been in deportation proceedings as a result of a minor traffic incident, and is under threat of immediate deportation. For the last month, University Presbyterian Church in Tempe, AZ has provided sanctuary for Luis. ICE can still enter the church, remove Luis, and deport him, but Luis feels safer living in the church than in his own home.
In just 10 minutes, you can stand with the Reform Movement and make a difference for Luis and his family. As Rabbi Shoshanah Conover wrote:
"Sometimes we feel powerless to actually make a difference in this world. Other times, we are given opportunities like this one to act to help save a person's life – the life of Luis Lopez Acabal – whose goodness affects the lives of so many others."
Help Luis stay with his family by calling ICE. Just follow the instructions on our website.
Peter Berg became the fifth senior rabbi of The Temple since 1865 in July 2008. Prior to coming to The Temple, he served as rabbi of Temple Beth Or in Washington Township, New Jersey and as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas. Additionally, he served Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, New York as a rabbinic intern and at Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, as its Youth Director. In 2013, Rabbi Berg was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States of America.