The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
By Rabbi Esther Lederman
Courage. Tenacity. Faith. These are the traits of the Jewish people that we honor during Hanukkah. And they’re what I’ve seen this week too.Many Reform rabbis called Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva to urge them to stop Luis Lopez Acabal’s deportation. Over the last two days, I spent hours with Luis’s wife, Mayra Canales, and the pastor who is providing him sanctuary in his church, Rev. Eric Ledermann. Together we met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and the legislative director for their House Representative, Kyrsten Sinema. Our calls helped make these meetings possible! When Rev. Ledermann and Mayra thanked me for our contributions to their efforts, I felt incredibly proud to represent the Reform rabbinate.
As you know, President Obama announced executive actions last month that will allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the US with their families. Luis and his family’s courage, tenacity, and faith have paid off.
Today is Luis’s 100th day living in sanctuary at Rev. Ledermann’s church – and today, he goes home! Though it’s not the official “Stay of Removal” that we asked for, Luis has a commitment from the Phoenix ICE Field Director that he will not be deported and can qualify for one of the programs in President Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, because his step-children are citizens.
I am overjoyed that we helped ensure that Luis will spend the holidays with his family! Please join me as we enter this Shabbat in honoring the courage that Rev. Ledermann, Mayra, and Luis showed during these 100 days, and in celebrating that millions of other families can breathe freely and stay together as a result of President Obama’s announcement. If you feel so moved, please change your Facebook profile picture to this photo of Luis's family. This is a reminder of what we can accomplish by working in partnership with the strangers among us, remembering that we were strangers too.
Even as we celebrate Luis’s reunification with his family, there are still millions of others in similar situations whose outcomes are unclear. The Reform Movement will continue pushing Congress for a permanent solution, because their job is not done. Not when millions can still be deported.
When I called ICE along with dozens of other Reform rabbis during the High Holidays, I felt like I got to be the rabbi I want to be. This week, I felt that way again. It was an honor to represent you.
Rabbi Esther Lederman is the rabbi at Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. Rabbis Organizing Rabbis is a project of the Peace and Justice Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center, and the URJ's Just Congregations. Over the past year, ROR has worked for comprehensive immigration reform and to save immigrants like Luis from deportations. Learn more at rac.org/ror.