A Call for Open Hearts and Open Doors to Syrian Refugees

A Statement by the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis (MBR)
Contact: Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Chair, MBR Public Policy Committee (rabbi@neharshalom.org; 617-522-3618)
Rabbi David Lerner, MBR President (dlerner@templeemunah.org; 781-861-0300)
A Call for Open Hearts and Open Doors to Syrian Refugees – A Statement by the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis

The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis calls for open hearts and open doors to Syrian refugees. We call on Governor Baker, our elected representatives, both state and federal, and all citizens of the Commonwealth to stand for humanity and to raise up light in an increasingly benighted world. Acknowledging the governor’s effort to distance himself from harsher statements and legislation intended to block refugees, the need of the hour is for strong and unambiguous moral leadership. We call on political and religious leaders to eschew language that demonizes our Muslim neighbors, recognizing all terror as its own religion of hate. The true language of faith is one that affirms the image of God in every human being. In response to the fear that touches us all, we warn against the false dichotomy between security and compassion. The thoroughness of the federal refugee screening process has been well documented and should be allowed to function unimpeded, for the sake of both security and compassion. In response to hate, we call for an outpouring of love, not in the abstract but in response to real human beings fleeing for their lives.

As Jews, we know what it means to be refugees, at many times in our history having been forced to flee the countries we called home. Impelled by persecution and drawn by hope, Jews have crossed myriad borders, legally and illegally, in search of a better life. Had America’s borders been open during the Holocaust, many more Jews might have been saved. The Statue of Liberty speaks with the Jewish voice of Emma Lazarus; “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Responding to the best of who we are as a nation, turning fear into love becomes a source of strength. On behalf of Syrian refugees, we call for open hearts and open doors as an affirmation of humanity, both theirs and ours.