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Kehilla Spiritual Leaders’ Statement on Sanctuary

      And when an immigrant comes to live with you in your land, you should not wrong them. You should treat the immigrant who lives with you as one of your citizens.  And you should love them as yourself; for you were immigrants in the the land of Mitzraim.

Leviticus 19:33-34

      We are moved and excited that Kehilla is ready to take our next step as part of the New Sanctuary Movement, preparing to offer sanctuary housing in our building to immigrants facing deportation. We look forward to the community conversations ahead, and to the learning and growth that this path will bring to us all, as we walk together on the path toward greater justice.

      In November 2016, the Kehilla Board of Trustees adopted a policy committing our community to be part of the New Sanctuary Movement, including an exploration of offering physical sanctuary and emergency housing in our synagogue building. In March 2108, after months of research and careful consideration, the board voted to approve offering housing at Kehilla to immigrants in need of sanctuary. We enthusiastically and fully support the board’s action.

      We know from our history, both ancient and modern, that laws and legal authorities can be unjust and cruel. And we know from our history, both ancient and modern, that resistance to injustice and alignment with our deepest values and aspirations sometimes requires us to take personal and legal risks. There are times when our position of relative freedom and our material resources allow us to employ these blessings for the benefit of others who face imminent threats to their life and well-being. And we recall with gratitude the many times when others have done this for us.

      We are witnessing the rise of tyrannical power that targets poor people, people of color, immigrants, trans* people, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. We see ICE specifically going after people of color, and retaliating against immigrants who speak out, using the power of the state to intimidate, harass, detain and threaten people who are simply seeking a decent life.

      We see this moment as one where we possess the resources and the privilege and the connections that enable us to offer life-giving support to people among us whose lives and well-being are threatened by unjust laws and legal and social systems. We see this moment as one where we are called to align our actions with our values, to allow us to live into our mission as a Jewish community committed to justice for everyone.

      We now have an opportunity to deploy our beloved community in a new way to fulfill our mission. We see this as an opportunity to build our connections with the wider Sanctuary movement, to build relationships with people who may be housed in our building, to learn and grow as we meet immigrant families and hear about their experiences, and to act with integrity as we grow our capacity for spiritual audacity.

      We support prioritizing this effort in particular because of the extraordinary investment our members are already making on behalf of  immigrants. Kehilla is currently on Accompaniment Team # 12, with each Accompaniment team including 4 to 8 congregants. We have 12 member families who have housed, or are housing immigrants or refugees in their homes. The monthly Let Our People Go protests just marked their one-year anniversary, with the last protest drawing about 200 people of all ages. Our Immigration Committee continues to give talks and trainings to other congregations, and is a leader in the wider community.

      We are grateful to the Board of Trustees for its careful consideration of all the issues involved in offering physical sanctuary, and for its vision and clarity in voting to approve use of our building for sanctuary.

      In light of the spiritual and moral imperatives, the opportunities for learning and growth, and the extensive involvement of so many of our members in immigration and sanctuary work, we, the Spiritual Leaders of Kehilla, fully support offering physical sanctuary and emergency housing in our building. We look forward to walking this path together, with love and openness.

Rabbi Dev, Hazzan Shulamit, Rabbi David, Rabbi Burt, Sharon Grodin, Howard Hamburger, Avi Rose



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