By Rabbi Allen Maller
President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the USA left much of the American Jewish community horrified — particularly as the announcement came on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Union of Reform Jewry, compared the order to the Dred Scott court decision upholding slavery in the pre civil war South; and the immoral internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Now two large American Orthodox Jewish groups responded to President Trump’s executive order barring migrants from seven mostly Muslim countries, and refugees from around the world; by warning against policies that would place any limits on immigration based on religion.
With the combined statement by the Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America, all four major American Jewish denominations have now criticized the executive order in some form. The Reconstructionist movement condemned the statement ahead of its signing Friday, while the Reform and Conservative movements condemned it on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
It is extremely rare for all four Jewish movements, which have split on everything from LGBT rights to Israel policy, to unite in opposing a presidential action.
The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt vowed in a statement Thursday to “relentlessly fight this policy,” noting “our Jewish history and heritage compel us to take a stand.” On Saturday, he noted that the presidential executive order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, likening it to passengers of the MS St. Louis, a German ship filled with 937 Jewish refugees, who were denied entry into the United States, as well as Cuba and Canada, in 1939. They were forced to return to Europe where most of them were killed during WW2.
Greenblatt has already vowed to register as a Muslim if the USA creates a database of Muslim Americans. The idea of a Muslim database arose in November 2015, when Mr Trump told a reporter he would “certainly implement that. Absolutely.” Jonathan Greenblatt said: “If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim”.
I predict that hundreds of American Rabbis and tens of thousands of proud American Jews will sign up as Muslims if American Muslim are forced to register. After all, everyone who believes in the One God of Abraham; and faithfully follows the religion of God’s prophets; actually is a ‘Muslim’ in faith.
Let us all reject “the virus of polarization and animosity” and the growing temptation to “demonize” those who are different.