Over 200 rabbis – including more than 30 affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement – demonstrated outside Trump Tower Monday night, opposing President Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-Majority nations.
And a group of 19 religious leaders were ultimately arrested for blocking traffic on Central Park West, sitting down and singing songs in Hebrew. Among those arrested for civil disobedience: Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, ’00, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, ‘90, Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, ’03, and Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, ’06.
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, ’99, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, was among the group that marched about 30 blocks to Trump Tower. Many wore kippot and tallit, chanting “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.” Several rabbis carried signs that read “my people were refugees too.”
Rabbi Waxman has consistently and forcefully advocated for open, humane and secure immigration and refugee policies. In a 2016 piece in the Jewish Exponent, Rabbi Waxman asked for people to “Join me in calling for a national policy that welcomes and protects the stranger, a policy that lives up to the highest ideals of our faith and our country. Join me in defending our cherished values of welcoming and embracing the stranger.”
Across the movement, rabbis, congregations and individuals have taken strong stands against the refugee and travel ban, drawing on Jewish values like welcoming the stranger and the Jewish people’s historical experience.
On Jan. 28, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, as well as the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, released a joint statement opposing the controversial presidential order – which has been temporarily blocked by a federal judicial ruling.
“The entire American Jewish community, indeed a majority of the American community, is made up of descendants of refugees and immigrants,” the statement read. “Our ancestors came to this country seeking safety, security and a better way of life for their families. Following the biblical exhortation to welcome the stranger, the U.S. welcomed our families to these shores, many met by a statue whose very presence honors that legacy.”