On Monday, February 5th, I spoke at a rally outside of Congressman Leonard Lance’s Westfield office as part of Faith in New Jersey, (http://faithinnewjersey.org/) in partnership with immigrant organization Make the Road New Jersey. During the rally, faith leaders spoke, Dreamers shared their stories, prayers were offered and songs were sung. Then six of us (4 clergy, 1 activist and 1 organizer) entered the office and engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested for standing up for Dreamers while remaining seated (and not leaving) the office.
Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz 20 Shevat 5778 February 5, 2018
My name is Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz. I stand here as a Millburn resident, a constituent of Congressman Lance, a woman, wife, daughter, sister, mother, granddaughter of an immigrant, Jew and rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston:
DREAMERS are part of the fabric of America. They have grown up here and this is their home. They have gifts to share and should be welcomed, not targeted to leave the country that is the only home they know. No one should live in fear of being sent away from the safety of their home.
The story of the Exodus is a core story of the Jewish people. We were strangers and oppressed in the land of Egypt. We suffered there and finally were able to leave. We read this story anew each year and place ourselves in the story. We know what it’s like to be a stranger and the Torah commands us 36 times to welcome the stranger. In Leviticus 19:33-34, God commands the Israelites:
When an immigrant resides in your land, you shall not wrong them. The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
We are also taught in the Torah that “You shall have the same law for the stranger as for the native born.”
In the beginning of the book of Exodus, we learn about two midwives: Shifra and Puah. They knew what Pharaoh decreed, to kill all newborn male Hebrew babies, and they also knew what was right. His xenophobia and anti-immigrant hatred was not to be normalized. They were spiritual midwives who helped strangers in a foreign land by defying the evil Pharaoh’s decree. They understood the proper path of justice and let the babies live.
An evil decree was made in this land and hurts individuals whose home is America. Congressman Lance, stand on the side of justice and stand up for the DREAMERS. There are not two sides: Stand against White supremacists and hate-filled decrees.
As a representative of the State of NJ, Congressman Lance we want you to stand up for the more than 800,000 DREAMERS in America; of whom 22,000 are in New Jersey and 4200 are in this district. We want New Jersey to be a Beloved community that is part of a Beloved Nation. Each human being was created in God’s image and we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means that what we want for ourselves, we want for our neighbors. That’s why Leviticus commands us that we shall not stand idly by. We must stand up for our neighbors. We as people of Faith and people, who care about the resident stranger, stand up for those in need.
It is time to pass a Clean Dream Act.
V’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha. Love your neighbor as yourself. Let us love the DREAMERS, who are part of the fabric of our nation. Let us stand up for what is right and ensure they continue contributing to a brighter future in America, their home.