Regarding the column by Albert Eisenberg (“Immigration: Left-leaning rabbis push ahistorical agenda”), he may be missing the point, and the history.
We in the U.S. have no shortage of liberty: let those in need come and share it! There is no limit on freedom – come, accept our rules, and participate in our bounty!
All who are hungry, let them come and eat! All who are in need, let them come and celebrate with us.
Where in our commandments does it say, “scrutinize all before allowing them in”? I don’t see any rule saying, “cage the children so they cannot taste your freedom.” Where is it written that we must “send them back into danger and death, lest they taint our waters, eat our food, and go to school with our sons”?
Yes, our immigration practices could use scrutiny. But over the past three years, the waters have only been further muddied with poison that threatens not only those asking to enter but us, too. And that poison spills over to our citizens who believe Jews should not encourage immigration: I believe that was one thing in the shooter’s mind as he gunned for us in mid-Kaddish DiRabbanon in the Tree of Life building.
Mr. Eisenberg says laws of kashrut, etc., are for separateness. I differ. We were given the laws to go forth and set examples, to be a light unto the nations. (“Nations,” including us, not “other nations.”) When I leave the corners of my field to the less fortunate, I observe a commandment equal to the commandment Mr. Eisenberg observes not boiling a calf in mother’s milk. The result of my observance helps others; I am sharing the holiness of mitzvah. We must share it as far as we possibly can. It’s not only about us, it never was only for us to be insular and follow our own interpretations and permutations and extrapolations of the Law. It’s about the world.
As rabbis teach us, it’s about the whole world.
This is America, and many Jews of all political stripes feel it is still a good idea – based in law and in history – to reach out a hand to help others.
Audrey N. Glickman