Remarks at Immigration Solidarity Rally, June 23 2019

(The following was delivered at an Immigration solidarity rally hosted at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD, on June 23, 2019, and was organized in part by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D – MD 8th), a member of Maryland’s delegation to the U.S. Congress. Full video of the event is available here. It’s worth a watch just to hear the DC Labor Choir’s performance!)

As a Jew, I recognize that if today’s immigration system had been in place, I would not be standing here today: my great-grandparents would likely never have left the Russian Empire or Poland.

Speaking at the rally. Left to right: Rep. Jamie Raskin, Rev. Abhi Janimanchi, me. Behind me is Rev. Katie Romano Griffin. Photo from Cedar Lane UU’s Facebook page.

As a rabbi, I remember the statement of my predecessors nearly 1500 years ago in the Talmud: “All Israel is bound up with one another” (b. Shevuot 39a). Even more true is that we all are bound up with one another.

As a Humanist, I ask that we look to the power we all have, and all in our country share: the power of conscience.

We have come together as people who believe that the dark in our country can and must change. We believe in our responsibility to care for all of our neighbors. We believe in the possibility of a just society: one built upon equity, not pure legalism; a society built on love.

As people of conscience: may we be mindful that our fates are bound up with those of our neighbors, whatever their place of origin. May we find inspiration and common cause. May we build power to work together for justice — true justice, based on equity and the fundamental worth of each person — for our immigrant neighbors, for our refugee neighbors, for our asylum-seeking neighbors, and for all those to whom we are bound in common humanity, wherever they may be — and especially for those tramped upon by the power of our federal government’s executive branch. May we go forth and take action to protect our neighbors from cruelty, and ensure that this episode in American life is never repeated.

We come together in dark times. But in the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” In this dark time, let us be the crack, so that we can let the light in.

May it be so.

Thank you.

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