Hundreds of Jewish Organizations Join Together to Urge the Administration to End “Zero Tolerance” Family Separation Policy

by Haya Luftig

New York, NY – Today 350 national, state, and local Jewish organizations—including the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox movements—sent a joint letter urging the Administration to immediately rescind the “zero tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting all adults who cross the border. This practice forces authorities to separate children from their migrant parents because there are laws protecting immigrant children against prolonged detention.

Organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Reform Movement, and HIAS, the letter urges the Administration uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built by ending the “zero tolerance” policy. Unfortunately, the executive order signed yesterday fails to terminate this policy, instead opening the door to repealing the laws currently preventing authorities from detaining children for long periods of time. It essentially seeks to replace family separation with indefinite family detention.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, thousands of children have already been torn from their parents since the policy was implemented. Mounting evidence suggests that many children have been threatened, treated poorly, and held in dangerous conditions.

Originally issued last week with 26 national groups, the organizers reopened the letter to include the many organizations around the country that wanted to collectively voice their outrage in response to such inhumane policy.

The full text of the letter is available here or below.

___

June 20, 2018

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

 

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen,

On behalf of the 57 undersigned national and 294 state and local Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people.

As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression. We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.

Many of these migrant families are seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence in Central America. Taking children away from their families is unconscionable. Such practices inflict unnecessary trauma on parents and children, many of whom have already suffered traumatic experiences. This added trauma negatively impacts physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of early death.[1]

Separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in our immigration system. It adds to the backlog of deportation cases and legal challenges in federal courts, places thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and shelters, endangers the lives of more children, and instills additional fear in people seeking safety in our country. In addition, those seeking asylum or other legal protection face numerous obstacles to making a claim, especially from detention. Separating family members at the border would force families into two or more immigration cases instead of a single case for each family, harming their ability to present a successful case.

Our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just. We urge you to immediately rescind the “zero tolerance” policy and uphold the values of family unity and justice on which our nation was built.

Sincerely,

National Organizations

Academy for Jewish Religion

Ameinu

American Committee for Shaare Zedek

American Conference of Cantors

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

American Jewish World Service

Anti-Defamation League

Avodah

B’nai B’rith International

Be’chol Lashon

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Eitzah Center for Congregational Leadership

Eshel

Habonim Dror North America

Hadar Institute

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

HIAS

Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

International Association of Women in Radio and Television-USA

International Rabbinic Fellowship

J Street

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Labor Committee

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

Jewish Women International

jGirls Magazine

Keshet

Men of Reform Judaism

National Association of Jewish Legislators

National Council of Jewish Women

Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC)

Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

New York Board of Rabbis

NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement

Orthodox Union

Rabbinical Assembly

Rabbinical Council of America

Reconstructing Judaism

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Sephardic Heritage International DC (SHIN DC)

The Association of Rabbis & Cantors

The Cantors Assembly

The Center for Jewish Ethics at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

The Detroit National Center for Civil Discourse

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

The Jewish Theological Seminary

The Shalom Center

The Workmen’s Circle

Tikkun Magazine

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Union for Reform Judaism

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Uri L’Tzedek, The Orthodox Social Justice Movement

Women of Reform Judaism

Women’s Rabbinic Network

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

 

State and Local Organizations

Arizona

Arizona Jews for Justice

National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona Section

 

California

Adath Israel of San Francisco

Beit TShuvah

Beth Jacob Congregation

Bnai David-Judea

Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara

Congregation Kol Shofar

Jewish Center for Justice

Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles

Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley

Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara

Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley

Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC)

Jewish Vocational Service

Kenesset Israel Torah Center

Leo Baeck Temple

National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Section

Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees

Shalom Bayit

Temple Beth Am

Temple Beth Emet

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

YINBH Beverly Hills Synagogue

 

Colorado

DAT Minyan

National Council of Jewish Women, Colorado Section

 

Connecticut

Beth Sholom B’nai Israel

Congregation Agudath Sholom

Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford

Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven

United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien

 

Delaware

Jewish Family Services

 

District of Columbia

Adas Israel Congregation

Congregation Bet Mishpachah

Hill Havurah

 

Florida

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center

Bet Shira

Bnai Torah Congregation

Congregation Beth Israel of Ocala

Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation

Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando

Miami Beach Jewish Community Center

National Council of Jewish Women, Florida State Policy Advocate

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Miami Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Sarasota/Manatee Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Valencia Shores Section

Orlando Jewish Community Relations Council

Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami/Miami Jewish Federation

Temple Beth Or

Temple Beth Or-Miami

Temple Beth Sholom

 

Georgia

Hadassah Greater Atlanta

Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta

 

Illinois

Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation

Beth Emet The Free Synagogue

Jewish Child and Family Services Chicago

Jewish Community Relations Council of Chicago

Jewish Community Relations Council of Springfield

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

National Council of Jewish Women, Illinois State Policy Advocate

National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section

New Jewish Outreach-Renewing the Conversation

SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva

Tzedek Chicago

 

Indiana

Congergation Shaarey Tefiilla, Carmel

Congregation B’nai Jacob

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck

Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council

Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne

Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis

Temple Adath B’nai Israel

 

Iowa

Agudas Achim Congregation

Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines

Temple Adath B’nai Israel

Tifereth Israel Synagogue

University of Iowa Louis Shulman Hillel Foundation

 

Kansas

Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City

 

Kentucky

Jewish Federation of Louisville

Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass, Inc.

Ohavay Zion Synagogue

National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section

 

Louisiana

Congregation Beth Israel

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section

Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation

 

Maine

National Council of Jewish Women, Maine Section

 

Maryland

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation

Baltimore Jewish Council

Habonim Dror Camp Moshava

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington

Jews United for Justice

New Tamid

Temple Beth Ami

 

Massachusetts

Beth Tikvah Synagogue of Westborough

Congregation Dorshei Tzedek

Congregation Shaarei Tefillah

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Jewish Children & Family Services of Greater Boston

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

Jewish Vocational Service Boston

Moishe Kavod House

Temple Beth Zion (TBZ)

The Young Israel of Brookline

 

Michigan

Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC – Detroit

Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County

Kehillat Etz Chayim

National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan State Policy Advocate

 

Minnesota

Adath Jeshurun Congregation (Hesed and Women’s League)

Bet Shalom Congregation

Beth El Synagogue

Beth Jacob Congregation

Congregation Darchei Noam

Hadassah Minneapolis

Herzl Camp

Hesed Committee- Adath Jeshurun Congregation

Jewfolk, Inc.

Jewish Community Action

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis

Jewish Family Service of St. Paul

Jewish Housing and Programming (J-HAP)

Mayim Rabim Congregation

Minnesota Hillel

Minnesota Rabbinical Association

Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul

National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota State Policy Advocate

Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council

Shir Tikvah Congregation

St. Paul Jewish Federation

Talmud Torah of Saint Paul

Temple Israel

Temple of Aaron

Women of Adath

 

Minnesota and the Dakotas

Jewish Family and Community Services

Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas

Hadassah Upper Midwest

Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest

 

Missouri

Bais Abraham Congregation

Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of St. Louis

 

New Jersey

Congregation Bnai Jacob Jersey City.

Highland Park Conservative Temple – Congregation Anshe Emeth

Highland Park Minyan

Jewish Community Relations Committee of Northern New Jersey

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest

Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest

Maayan of West Orange

National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section

Oheb Shalom Congregation.

Temple Avodat Shalom

Temple Emanu-El

Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center

The Cantors Assembly

United Synagogue of Hoboken

 

New Mexico

Jewish Care Program

Jewish Federation of New Mexico

 

New York

Ansche Chesed

Beth David Synagogue

B’nai Jeshurun

Brooklyn Heights Synagogue

Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob

Congregation Beth Elohim

Congregation Beth Hamedresh – Beth Israel

Congregation Beth Sholom

Congregation Etz Chaim

Congregation Mount Sinai

Congregation Tehillah

Educational Alliance

Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition

Hillel Community Day School

Jewish Community Relations Council of Buffalo

Jewish Community Relations Council of New York

Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester

Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County

Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester

Kane Street Synagogue, Brooklyn

Kolot Chayeinu

Muslim Jewish Solidarity Committee

North Country Reform Temple

Prospect Heights Shul

SAJ: Judaism that Stands for All

Temple Beth Am

Temple Beth David

Temple Beth El of Oneonta

Temple Beth Sholom

Temple Beth-El

Temple B’rith Kodesh

Temple Chaverim of Long Island

Temple Emanu-El

Temple Emanu-El of Canarsie

Temple Israel of the City of New York

Temple Shaaray Tefila

Temple Sinai

The Interfaith Center of New York

The New Jewish Home

T’hilah

Union Temple of Brooklyn

West End Synagogue

 

North Carolina

Beth Meyer Synagogue

Carolina Jews for Justice

Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte

Jewish Federation of Durham Chapel Hill

 

North Dakota

Temple Beth El

 

Ohio

Beth Jacob Congregation Columbus Ohio

Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council

Congregation Agudas Achim

Congregation Torat Emet

Jewish Community Relations Committee of Columbus

Jewish Family Service of Cincinnati

Jewish Family Services Columbus

Jewish Federation of Cleveland Community Relations Committee

Jewish Vocational Service Career Services

  1. K. Bene Israel, Rockdale Temple

National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Ohio State Policy Advocate

The Little Minyan Kehilah

 

Oklahoma

Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City

Jewish Federation of Tulsa

 

Oregon

Ahavas Torah

Beth Sholom Congregation

Jewish Family & Child Service of Portland

Jewish Federation of Greater Portland

 

Pennsylvania

Beth Sholom Congregation

Congregation B’nai Harim

Jewish Community Relations Council Greater Philadelphia

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia

Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburg

Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley

Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg

National Council of Jewish Women, Pennsylvania Advocacy Committee

Progressive Jewish Voice of Central Pennsylvania

Temple Beth Shalom, Mechanicsburg

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Pittsburgh

Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley

Mekor Habracha/Center City Synagogue

Temple Beth Israel

 

South Carolina

Charleston Jewish Family Services

Charleston Jewish Federation

Community Relations Council of the Columbia Jewish Federation

Congregation Dor Tikvah

Greenville Jewish Federation

The South Carolina Council on the Holocaust

 

Tennessee

Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee

Congregation Micah

Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga

Memphis Jewish Federation

Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable

National Council of Jewish Women, Nashville Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Tennessee State Policy Advocate

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom

 

Texas

Jewish Family Service Houston

Jewish Family Service of San Antonio, Texas, Inc.

Jewish Federation of San Antonio

National Council of Jewish Women, Austin Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Dallas Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Houston Section

National Council of Jewish Women, San Antonio Section

National Council of Jewish Women, Texas State Policy Advocate

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Houston Section

 

Utah

National Council of Jewish Women, Utah Section

 

Virginia

Kol Ami: The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

 

Washington State

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue

Congregation Beth Israel Walla Walla

Congregation Beth Shalom

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation

Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

Kadima Reconstructionist Community

Kol HaNeshamah

National Council of Jewish Women, Washington State Policy Advocate

Temple Beth Hatfiloh

Temple B’nai Torah

The Kavana Cooperative

Washington State Jewish Historical Society

 

Wisconsin

Beth Hillel Temple

Coalition for Jewish Learning

Congregation Beth Jehuda

Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun

Congregation Sinai

Hillel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hillel Milwaukee

Jewish Community Relations Council, Milwaukee

Jewish Family Services, Inc.

Jewish Museum Milwaukee

Milwaukee Jewish Day School

Milwaukee Jewish Federation

Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center

National Council of Jewish Women, Milwaukee Section

The Spark Wisconsin

Wisconsin Council of Rabbis

Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Wisconsin Jewish Conference

 

International

Canada

Adath Israel Poale Zedek Anshei Ozeroff Congregation

National Social Action Committee/Canadian Council for Reform Judaism

[1] Michael MacKenzie, Emily Bosk, and Charles Zeanah, “Separation Families at the Border- Consequences for Children’s Health and Well-Being,” New England Journal of Medicine, June 15, 2017, available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMp1703375.

 


About the Author


Haya Luftig