We are pained and challenged by the millions of refugees worldwide including the plight of the more than 11 million Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees who have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing violence.
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Washington, D.C., November 17, 2015 – In response to calls for new limits on Syrian refugees in the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The recent attacks in Paris have horrified and pained us deeply, as they have all people of goodwill around the world. Our hearts ache for all those directly impacted by these acts of terror. We pray for healing of those who were injured and comfort for the families of all who were lost.
These attacks echo the kind of terrible violence that the Syrian people have lived with for the past several years, buffeted between the brutality of President Assad and the barbarism of ISIS. As such, now is the time to ensure the U.S. refugee system remains open to those fleeing Syria and who wish to contribute to and strengthen our nation. Calls to impose new limits on Syrian refugees, to impose a religious test on refugees, or to close our doors altogether ignore the reality that the lengthy and rigorous vetting of refugee applications helps ensure our national security while upholding our historic role as a place of refuge.
We cannot allow the violence wrought by ISIS and its allies to overshadow our values as Americans and as Reform Jews. As Jewish tradition teaches, “and each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4). We can ensure our security and fulfill our highest aspirations as a nation rooted in compassion and commitment to religious liberty. We call on members of Congress to oppose any effort to limit the acceptance of Syrian refugees, just as we urge public officials and figures across the U.S. to reject divisive and inflammatory statements that do not reflect our history as a nation founded by descendants of those who fled persecution in search of freedom.
In these trying times, we cannot lose sight of our values and what we stand for. To repair the brokenness in our world, we must stand united with those who reject violence and divisiveness and instead support those who uphold healing, safety and security for all.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.