Resolution on Support for Syrian Refugees

Posted on: Wednesday April 6, 2016

Whereas the Torah enjoins us many times to treat foreigners who come to our land fairly, as in Lev. 19:34: כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; and

Whereas our Rabbinic tradition forbids us to oppress the stranger, “You shall not wrong or oppress the ger(stranger), for you were gerim(strangers) in the land of Egypt (Exod 22:20) – You shall not wrong with words, and you shall not oppress financially (Mekhilta d’R. Yishmael Mishpatim, Nezikin Par. 18); and

Whereas the personal history of many contemporary Jews and their families reflects either the difficult immigrant experience, or the far worse fate of those who perished before they managed to become immigrants; and

Whereas the protracted war in Syria has created 7 million displaced persons within Syria and over 4 million refugees escaping through Turkey, the Balkans and Europe; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly, the Jewish Theological Seminary, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Women’s League for Conservative Judaism are all members of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief which is providing support for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and along their entire trajectory of escape; and

Whereas over 1,200 Rabbis from all streams signed a letter calling on Congress to “exercise moral leadership for the US Refugee Admissions program”; and

Whereas the United States Refugee Admissions Program provides the most thorough screening and vetting of any individuals arriving in this country by specially trained Dept. of Homeland Security officers and both US and international intelligence agencies; and

Whereas terrorist attacks, such as those in Paris and Brussels, have sparked reactions  to reject  the resettlement of  these  innocent men, women and children fleeing for their lives after years of victimization by their government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge the United States government to maintain its proud legacy of welcoming refugees and provide  meaningful opportunity to all who seek asylum; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call on the United States government to reject policy proposals that would halt, limit, or curtail funding for refugee resettlement in the U.S. or prioritize certain refugees over others; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge the U.S. government to take bold leadership by providing robust funding to support refugees around the world as well as provide necessary resources to refugees who are resettled in the U.S.; and

Be it further resolved that members of the Rabbinical Assembly should engage their communities in the Jewish response to the refugee crisis through education, advocacy, and direct service, and including support of Masorti congregations in Europe actively working to provide services to the refugees.