Members of Am Shalom welcoming a Syrian refugee family at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Jan. 27, 2017. (Courtesy Am Shalom)
CHICAGO, Illinois (JTA) — Taylor Clearfield went to the airport Friday to welcome a Syrian refugee family. The next day, she returned with a sign to protest the ban on refugees entering the United States.
President Donald Trump had enacted the prohibition via executive order on Friday afternoon, between Clearfield’s two trips. She had anticipated the development, but hearing that it had actually happened added a sense of urgency to the work she had been doing for refugees through her local synagogue.
“Saturday night, we felt like we were just doing something to add to the momentum of this opposition against Trump’s hateful rhetoric,” said Clearfield, who joined hundreds in demonstrating against the ban. “We couldn’t just go about our regular lives while people are being detained in the airport. I just kept thinking about how I would feel as a mother if I were separated from my family. I would want people to bring awareness.”
Clearfield was one of some 20 members of Am Shalom, a Chicago-area Reform synagogue, who came to O’Hare International Airport Friday to take in a Syrian family of four. The synagogue has raised $60,000 to help resettle the family, in conjunction with a resettlement agency called RefugeeOne, and is now providing food, clothing, furniture, guidance on day-to-day life in the United States and tutoring for the children. Clearfield, a member of Am Shalom’s clothing committee, has contributed socks and underwear.
Taylor Clearfield holding a sign, and her daughter, at a protest of the refugee ban at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Jan. 27, 2017. (Courtesy of Taylor Clearfield)
But the family, which arrived via a refugee camp in Turkey, is one of the last groups of Syrians that will be allowed to enter the US in the near future. Trump’s executive order prohibits for 120 days all refugees from entering the country, with an indefinite ban on those from Syria. Citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are barred from entry for 90 days.
“We didn’t know when the order would be signed,” said Am Shalom Rabbi Steven Lowenstein. “We were texting and calling each other all throughout those days, not knowing if the family was going to get on the flight, if they were going to make it, not going to make it.”
Am Shalom, which has welcomed refugees in past decades from Cambodia and Chile, decided last year that it wanted to help resettle a Syrian family. It began expediting the process after the election of Trump, who had pledged as a candidate to ban Muslims from entering the country.
The synagogue has raised enough money to resettle a second family, and has furniture and other supplies sitting in a storage unit for when Trump’s ban ends.
“We firmly believe our mission is to love the stranger and to welcome the stranger,” Lowenstein said. “We were strangers once, and so many of our congregants can trace their roots to being refugees right in this country. It was very clear to us that this is what we as Jews, we as human beings needed to do.”
Am Shalom is one of several synagogues across the country that have taken an active part in resettling refugees. More than 250 synagogues have joined a campaign by the refugee support and advocacy group HIAS, either by contributing money, educating people about refugees or lobbying elected officials. In addition, 1,700 rabbis have signed a HIAS letter in support of welcoming refugees.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.