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No Less Than Thirty-Six*

Monday, 10 May 2010

The amount of times the Torah commands us to care for, protect, or support the stranger. More than any other mitzvah.

When the professor of a class turns to the board (chalk, white, or Smart) and writes something down, you can be certain it is going to appear on the final. Literary repetition in the Bible is God’s Smartboard and will most certainly be on the Test. Though the phrasing may reflect word changes, the thematic repetition as a narrative tool indicates the importance of this leitmotif. God is really, REALLY serious about the treatment of strangers.

An undercurrent of hate and fear in this country has surged forth in recent weeks with the passage of an illegal-immigration bill, signed into law, in the state of Arizona. While the country was busy debating the constitutionality and humanity of Arizona SB 1070, also known as the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” the Arizona Department of Education ordered school districts to remove from the classroom teachers whose English was heavily-accented or whose speech is ungrammatical.

Yes, we have immigration laws that must be upheld. Yes, it is important that our children have teachers who model proper grammar. But the way in which these laws and policies are being written and implemented leave little question as to the motivation driving them.

Hatred of the other. The stranger. The immigrant. The alien. The man with dark skin. The woman who swallows “the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.” It’s not the Caucasian man born in Europe. Or the woman from South Carolina.

The drug trafficking that makes its way across the border is a legitimate concern. As is the manner in which we attempt to control it.

As this issue continues to be debated in the public arena, let us not forget that we too were “strangers in a strange land.” Throughout most of our history. Rashi suggests that when the Torah says “you know the feelings of the stranger,” it is the recollection of our painful experience in Mitzrayim that instructs us to “know how painful it is when (we) oppress him” (Comment on Exodus 22:20, 23:9).

Mere days remain before we stand again at Sinai. Now is the time to heed God’s Call. Now is the time to take God’s Test.

Please take a moment and sign an Open Letter Supporting Humane Immigration Reform. It was drafted by Justice Team members from IKAR.

*36, 33, 24 — different sources share different numbers.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 11 May 2010 12:14 pm

    i’m really happy that you brought this to the table. i’m so deeply saddened when people throw support– political, verbal, emotional towards this. i really appreciate you bringing it home (heart and soul) to who we are, what we are– which is NOT about hate.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 25 May 2010 9:27 pm

      Thanks, Galit. The situation is Arizona continue to get more and more hateful and discriminatory. And I shudder to think how many people will be jumping on this bandwagon.

  2. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Tuesday, 11 May 2010 4:24 pm

    A powerful Torah message that needs to be heard. Thanks for alerting me to the Ikar letter, which I was pleased to sign.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 25 May 2010 9:31 pm

      It needs to be heard and yet I know that it’s not being heard by so many. With the bulletin about to come out, I expect some fairly angry responses.

      How can people sit in shul week-after-week and still hold such hateful beliefs??

  3. Tuesday, 11 May 2010 7:51 pm

    very very very well-said.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 25 May 2010 9:31 pm

      Thanks, love. It’s a message that I anticipate will not be well-received by everyone.

  4. Monday, 24 May 2010 8:36 pm

    So good. I posted your words on my blog – b’shem omro, under “Posts I wish I had Written”

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 25 May 2010 9:33 pm

      Thanks, Paul. I’m really honoured that you thought so highly of this post.

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