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06/28/2018 11:54:23 AM


Beth Schafer

My Dear Friends,

I cannot sugarcoat this message. I cannot frame it in any comfortable, easy way because I am uncomfortable, and I imagine many of you are as well. Less than 3 weeks ago I had the good fortune of co-leading a women’s trip to Israel with Rabbi Shabman. As we made our way through Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum), my heart, as in prior visits grew heavy, my stomach upset, my emotions rattled. Nothing took my breath away more than the pictures of children-anguishing, agonizing, children in pain, experiencing profound loss-something their psyche’s were not yet wired to handle. 

Upon leaving Yad Vashem the news regarding our nation’s borders began ramping up. And then a few days later came the pictures. The location was different, the circumstances different, but that look-that look of fear and despair was the same as that which I saw at Yad Vashem. And my heart once again grew even more sick knowing that this was happening in my beloved country. Children were being separated from their parents-toddlers, school-age children, teens who do not know when they would see their families again and parents who are distraught and do not know the location or condition of their children. 

This is not a political issue my friends, in my opinion, this is a humanitarian one. Torah teaches, “You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that your Eternal God redeemed you there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18) And, “Cursed be the one who subverts the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:19)

Children belong with their parents. As parents desperately try to track down their children and children, isolated from parents, try to cope with the separation, we cannot remain comfortable.

As a mother, I could not stop thinking about the children and how helpless and worried their parents are. Below is a link to the song, Haunted, that I composed last week. Some of you heard it at services last Shabbat-I’ve now been in the studio to record it. It breaks my heart to have written it. I wish I didn’t have to. Feel free to listen.

But it is not enough to cry for these families. We have the ability to act, which Judaism demands of us. Here are a couple of suggestions of ways to help:

Make your voices heard at the Families Belong Together Rally this Saturday

Offer funding to a synagogue in McAllen, TX that is supporting families facing criminal prosecution on the southern US border.

May this Shabbat stir in us a prayer and reveal to us a pathway to use our privilege to be agents of mercy and peace.

Shabbat Shalom,

Mon, July 22 2019 19 Tammuz 5779