It was my first rally in ages. And - even with terrible weather (pouring rain/sleet/etc), it was a deeply meaningful experience for our group. We heard from the leadership of HIAS, the Anti Defamation League, Mayor De Blasio, as well as from several refugees that HIAS has assisted over the years.
It was powerful beyond words to attend the rally as part of a desire to put the stories and values of our Jewish Tradition in to action. Every year, we are reminded at Passover that we were once strangers seeking refuge as we left Egypt. And, on some level, Jews have been refugees ever since.
We know this to be true not just by way of our study of Jewish history, but also by way of the narratives of our own individual families. In my own family, all of my great-grandparents fled their homes in Eastern Europe in the months and years following World War I, in search of a better life that was free of anti-Semitic pogroms. And they were welcomed to this country with open arms (by HIAS!).
I was called to stand with seven fellow congregants and 500 strangers in the freezing rain because that sense of welcome that my great-grandparents had represents the very best of what I believe America is: a safe haven for those who are in search of a better life - and who are prepared to contribute to the incredible civic experiment that is our democracy.
When those in power seek to close America's doors, and build tall walls, it is my own belief that something sacred about our country becomes vulnerable. And so my family's story, and the story of the Jewish people that we have told for hundreds of generations, called out to me, and beckoned me to protest today.
If this is an issue that calls to you as well, you might click here to lend your own voice to the cause.