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Hear the Cry of the Immigrant: Shofar Kavannah (Intention) 2018/5779

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As we sound the shofar, we are deeply aware of the “tragic gap” between Lazarus’ vision of refugees and immigrants coming to our shores for safe haven, huddled masses who yearn to be free and where we stand today.

We are more distanced than we were last year, when we thought things could not get worse.

As we speak, three mothers and their young children, who fled violence in their home countries, have taken sanctuary in churches within blocks from SAJ, unable to leave the walls of the church for fear they will be deported and be separated from their children.

As we speak, immigration leaders like Ravi Ragbir, the head of the New Sanctuary Committee, are being targeted for their leadership on immigration rights. Twelve years after his removal date, after full cooperation with his checkins and orders, Ravi and his family live in fear that today will be his last in America.

As we speak, there are still 497 migrant children who remain separated from their families since the Zero Tolerance policy was instituted in July. Twenty two of them are under five and two-thirds of those children have parents that have already been deported.

As we speak, the U.S. government is questioning and denying the citizenship of Americans of Hispanic descent and refusing to issue them passports, claiming their birth certificates were forged -but with no evidence.

As we speak, there are people, with Jews at the forefront, crafting policies that would deny citizenship to legal immigrants and green card holders who use public services.

We have seen this before.

We are taught that the cry of the shofar is the cry of Sarah, a mother in pain. We are taught not to run away from those painful cries. Instead, we should listen, let the pain pierce through our indifference and move us towards righteousness.

Let us awaken to this cry. Let us become witnesses. Let us find what we can do: speak out, vote, support families in sanctuary, donate to reunite separated families, accompany, teach our children and grandchildren our immigration stories.

Let the shofar awaken us to support those fleeing violence and persecution to find safety so those who are afraid and in the shadows can find the light of freedom.

Let the shofar awaken us to the gift of our power and our purpose for the New Year to come!

(Sounding of the Shofar)


Tragic Gap, Parker Palmer

Statistics gathered from news sources up two days before Rosh HaShanah (September 8)

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