Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway: A Message From The President & CEO

Shalom Chaverim,

As Jews, tradition teaches us to stand for those without a voice. Our tradition also teaches us to welcome and care for the stranger. I contend that speaking out on the policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border is on all of our shoulders.

So, what does that mean?

In this circumstance, our traditions and ethics teach us that we first need to educate ourselves by learning the facts. It also means speaking up about injustice and contacting our members of Congress to support reform and humane treatment of those seeking refuge in our country.

We need to be a safe place for those seeking asylum. Family reunification and treating all people with human dignity is not a wish list item. It is a ‘must have.’ Our American values and our Jewish values dictate no less. We, as Jews, have been threatened as a people simply because no other country would provide refuge during the 1930s and 40s. Let’s not relive that history again.

We must be vigilant and not sit quietly by. Our faith demands it. Our humanity does as well.

Along these lines, I am proud that Jewish Federation continues to do what we do best – convening our partner organizations and supporting them in their own work so we can maximize impact in situations like this.

Our national impact:

  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the national Jewish Community Relations Council arm of Jewish Federations, was at the forefront of efforts to end the family separation policy, along with many other organizations supported by Jewish Federations of North America.
  • AJC Global Jewish Advocacy, the national arm of the JCRB/AJC Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, urged immediate congressional action to support legislation that keeps families together.
  • Jewish Federation-funded HIAS has been working on the ground to help care for the separated children and help their families manage the many challenges they face.

Our local impact:

  • Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City initiated the family separation conversation with local Jewish agencies involved in Jewish Voices United - a coalition for inclusion and diversity in KC. The result was a statement from 11 local Jewish agencies, standing together in protection of vulnerable populations.

Fortunately, moving forward, families will no longer be separated. We must continue to focus on helping those children and parents who are yet to be reunited. Which leads to our most recent local effort:

  • We co-sponsored – along with many of the same Jewish agencies – a donation drive for immigrant children in Kansas to provide a Jewish humanitarian response. The drive collected items and monetary donations to directly assist the approximately 50 children relocated to Kansas after being separated from their families.

I encourage each of us to look to our Jewish values to guide us in these humanitarian efforts and, whatever our political viewpoints, to act to ensure that families seeking refuge on our shores remain together during their adjudication.