Rabbi Daniel Kripper’s immigration status in the United States has turned into a messy legal battle that resulted in his termination from Adat Shalom and could end with his deportation.
“We have an issue that we are trying to resolve,” said Richard Wolk, past president of Adat Shalom. “Unfortunately we are devastated by all that’s going on. For immigration reasons we had to terminate his employment in order to stay within the laws.”
Kripper said that he has done nothing illegal. “I got caught up in the bureaucracy of immigration,” he said.
The issue stems from Kripper’s application for a religious worker visa. The religious worker visa is one of the most scrutinized visas issued by the United States.
“This type of visa is flawed,” said Ellen Freeman, Adat Shalom’s attorney. “People are taking advantage of it. The government has a right to investigate them.”
On May 5, Kripper lost yet another appeal to get his papers corrected so that he may continue working in the United States.
Without legal documentation, Adat Shalom had no choice but to let Kripper go. Kripper’s wife also lost her job when their papers were deemed invalid.
What happens next for the couple is still not known.
Meanwhile, Joshua Effron, Kripper’s attorney, and Kripper have garnered considerable support from the local community in their attempts to reverse the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decision.
“We gathered evidence for them,” Kripper said, “letters of support in order to reinforce my case from the Jewish federation, two senators and one congressman, stating that I’m an active rabbi in the congregation involved in interfaith activities.”
While Kripper has the congregation’s full support, Wolk said, it has had to make adjustments.
“Cantor Yaier Lehrer will be our interim clergy and make sure all of our life cycle events will continue to go as planned,” he said. “We will work with the rabbi in hopes of resolving these issues. Hopefully, all of these issues will work out for the best.”
Kripper is optimistic about the ultimate outcome. While he knows deportation remains a possibility, he doesn’t believe that will happen.
“I’m a man of faith. That’s why I’m a rabbi and not a lawyer,” Kripper said. “It’s one legal issue that will be resolved. I don’t see any serious issue.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at email@example.com.)