We are pained and challenged by the millions of refugees worldwide including the plight of the more than 11 million Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees who have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing violence.
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Washington, D.C., September 21, 2015 - In response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the U.S. would increase the number of refugees admitted to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome Secretary Kerry’s announcement that the U.S. will increase the number of refugees in the coming two years, even as we recognize that the new admission numbers remain insufficient considering the scope of the crisis at hand.
During these Days of Awe, we are acutely aware that our actions are being judged by God. Yet we are also being judged by the millions of refugees seeking a haven, by our fellow nations, and by history. The world is facing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II when it was in many cases our own grandparents and great grandparents who were searching for nations to welcome them in their time of need. Though the circumstances then and now differ in many ways, the struggle to survive and provide a better life for one’s children is universal and it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part to address it. The nations of Europe and the international community broadly must respond with greater speed, compassion and efficacy to this crisis, and so must we.
We call on Congress to work with President Obama to fully implement the increased number of refugees to be admitted over the next two years – even as we urge the President and Congress to welcome even more refugees into our nation and fulfill its tradition as a beacon of hope and refuge to those in need.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 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.