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The Continuing Tragedy--and Travesty--of Family Separation (July 2018)

One of our great national disasters continues to play out on the American landscape—the separation of children from their parents as a result of the “zero tolerance” policy of the Trump administration. I wrote about this in our last newsletter (“The Devil Can Cite Scripture”) two weeks ago. While some families have been reunited since then, the majority remain separated, and our government lacks either the ability or the will—or both—to bring them together. There are court-assigned deadlines for reunification for the government to meet. Thus far it has fallen short and there do not seem to be any significant repercussions for the people who are responsible.

There should be outrage across our great land. Demonstrations like the ones in the streets of London this weekend in protest of our President’s visit should be regular occurrences in streets across America until the powers that be get it together and get every child that has been separated from his/her parents back to them. While there have been protests, they pale compared to what they should be.

I plan to be at one such protest on Sunday afternoon. Sunday, July 22, is Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. We fast in remembrance of the destruction of the First and Second Temples and Jewish exile from Jerusalem and the land of Israel, along with other tragedies in our history. Several national Jewish organizations have planned protests at ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) offices in several cities around the country. Locally, the protest will be at the ICE office at 10 New England Executive Park, Suite 1, in Burlington from 5:00-6:00 pm. I encourage you to join us.

The Burlington protest is entitled “Tisha B’Av: Historic Catastrophe, Modern Catastrophe” and is intended to express our mourning for the brokenness of our American immigration system, which has needlessly and cruelly broken so many families. This is indeed a catastrophe, one for which history will not judge us favorably.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously wrote, “There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty...[T]he Prophets sought to convey that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

As I stated last time, immigration is a complicated and complex issue. I certainly do not have the answers, but I know that what we are doing is not the way; it is morally indefensible. Our government is guilty of needless cruelty toward these families. But in our society, we are responsible.

Fri, December 14 2018 6 Tevet 5779