A Moral Emergency: An Urgent Message to TBE Members and Friends

Dear Members and Friends of Temple Beth El:

“For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).  There are times for prayers, and there are times for action.

Now is a time for action.  This week, thousands of children were separated from their parents on the U.S. border and in cities large and small.  Recordings of children crying out for parents echoed around the world.  Who we are as a nation is at stake.

Our sacred community rarely veers into politics.  We cherish diversity of politics, religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability and more.  We will never let politics divide us.

Humanity and spirituality, however, do not let us stay silent.  Fully 36 times in Torah, we are commanded to love the stranger – literally, the immigrant – for we too were strangers (immigrants).  We’re banned from standing idly by another’s suffering (Lev. 19:16).  We must do what’s right, even if doing right means violating every other norm, including Torah herself (Ps. 119:126).

That’s why we must act now.  We recall how xenophobia and blind eyes let hate fester: millions of Jews and others were rounded up and murdered.  We recall countless relatives who reached these shores through the same New York Harbor just outside our shul.  We recall our national calling as a beacon of human rights and dignity.

The cries of the children are like a shofar rousing us to action, now.


1. National Petition.  “Bend the Arc,” a Jewish organization working on justice issues, launched a petition declaring a state of moral emergency.  All Jewish denominations supports it.  Add your name.

2. AdvocacyReach out to your federal elected officials.  Even in this age of public “noise,” old fashioned advocacy still works.

3. Tzedakah. Consider giving to the immigrant support group of your choice.  Here are two among many:

4. Join us this FridayCommunities need each other in times of urgency. Be with us, share your hearts, take comfort in community, gather strength in numbers.

5. Reach out. If these times find you needing an ear, a shoulder, a renewed spiritual practice or more, please let us know.  We’re here for you.

May the Holy One of Blessing comfort those who suffer, and strengthen all of us to be what our prophetic tradition calls “repair the breach” (Isaiah 58:12).

– Rabbi Shohama and TBE Board President Paul Klein
(Rabbi David recused due to his judicial role)

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