Responding to the Executive Order on Migration and Refugees

SS-St-LouisThis Shabbat, from 11 – 11:45 a.m., please join us for a special bimah dialogue featuring Rabbi Glazer, Dr. Lindsay Gifford (Assistant Professor of International Studies and Anthropology, University of San Francisco), and Vlad Khaykin (Associate Director for the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco).

As the world faces the most severe refugee crisis since World War II, affecting tens of millions of displaced people, the current administration signed an Executive Order that halts U.S. refugee resettlement efforts. In solidarity with many leading American Jewish organizations, all arms of the Conservative movement released an official statement condemning the presidential order and calling upon Jews everywhere to advocate for the rights of immigrants and reject the targeting of any individual based on their religion.

In this Shabbat discussion, Rabbi Glazer, Lindsay, and Vlad will explore the urgency of the refugee crisis, how it relates to Jewish values and shared history, weigh security concerns and the refugee vetting process, and look at how tradition teaches us to responsibly respond to these challenges with the ethical imperative "not to stand idly by as the blood of your brother is at stake" (Leviticus 19:16).

Please join us. The interactive discussion will take place from 11 – 11:40 a.m., and will be preceded by our full Torah service (beginning at 9:40 a.m.

Lindsay Gifford is Assistant Professor of International Studies and Anthropology at the University of San Francisco. She has worked on Middle Eastern migration and refugee issues for the past decade, including with members of the Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian, and Lebanese communities, with field research experience in Syria, Jordan, and the transnational Middle Eastern Diaspora. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Boston University and was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCLA. She also volunteers with refugee resettlement agencies in the US, and is a member of GenR, a professional advocacy group for the International Rescue Committee.

Vlad J. Khaykin is a former Jewish refugee and Associate Director for the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and graduate degrees in non-profit management and Near East and Jewish Studies from Brandeis University, where he focused on Jewish-Muslim relations and the history of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim migrant xenophobia.

Image credit: Jewish refugees aboard the German liner, St. Louis, June 29, 1939. (Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Images/via JTA)

Strangers Like Us: The Syrian Refugee Crisis

SyrianRefugeeA core message of Pesach (Passover) is that the Israelites' status as "strangers" in Egypt, the foreigners who were mistrusted, despised, and mistreated, serves as a lesson to us, their spiritual descendants: to be a Jew is to be forever a "stranger." With that permanent "otherness" in mind, we are commanded to be ever welcoming of "strangers," in every place and age. That's no mean charge, as we're seeing today. There is no better time than Pesach to reflect on how our ethical aspirations inform our everyday actions and politics.

Working with Dr. Lindsay Gifford (Assistant Professor of International Studies and Anthropology, University of San Francisco) and Vlad Khaykin (Associate Director, Anti-Defamation League's Central Pacific Region), CBS created a Pesach seder table Haggadah supplement to encourage Jews everywhere to wrestle with the Syrian refugee crisis.

If you'd like to print these for distribution, please click here to view a high-resolution file. The image below is relatively low resolution.

SyrianRefugeeHandout Lead image credit: Petros Giannakouris, AP