President Trump wants to shut borders to refugees and impose a travel ban on arrivals from seven Muslim majority countries. The issue may now be caught up in a legal loophole, but the reasons for the ban are still so wrong for so many reasons.
It shows a lack of compassion and judgment. It is discriminatory and unfair. It is inimical to the democratic values upon which the US was founded and on which much of modern life is predicated.
It is probably unlawful and in breach of international guarantees of which the US is a signatory.
It is unlikely to protecting the US from terrorism or contribute to the defeat of extremism.
It also contradicts Jewish values, the same which Jews were entitled to think were shared by others who describe themselves as democrats and/or Christians.
Judaism’s foundational text, the Creation Story recorded in the Book of Genesis (1:26), records that as each human being is created in the image of God, it therefore follows that each man, woman and child ought be treasured and treated with individual respect and dignity.
The closing of borders to refugees undermines the very essence of Jewish societal responsibility. Many refugees face death and Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 reminds the reader that “whoever destroys a single human life is considered by Scripture as if they had destroyed the whole world.”
During the first century, the Jewish community was led by Shammai and Hillel. Shammai advised: “Greet everyone with a cheerful face” (Mishnah Pirke Avot 1:15) and his opponent advised: “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace” (Mishnah Pirke Avot 1:12).
I am sending a copy of Pirke Avot to the Oval Office. I will read it to Trump now and as often as he likes!
Danny Rich is senior rabbi of Liberal Judaism and co-chair of the National Refugee Welcome Board