“By the breath of children God sustains the world.” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b)

Since May this year, 2342 children have been separated from their parents at the US/Mexico border.  Many of us have viewed the audio taken of the voices of children begging to see a parent…to call an aunt—pleas ensconced/ in tears and fears.  Others of us couldn’t watch the video because it was too painful.  A dark cloud has hovered over our land.  In a few short weeks we will be celebrating the birth of our nation—a nation founded on dreams and revolution.  Our forefathers forged a blueprint of democracy and freedom.  As a nation, there have been times when the American Dream has been eclipsed by fear and prejudice.  An opaque, black cloud has engulfed us in recent weeks.

The decision to separate children from parents—to rip away infants from mothers—to have no tangible plan to address the basic needs of children—for care—diapers—love—was an unconscionable and inhumane act.  As human beings we know that throughout the animal kingdom—mothers protect their young—attack those whom they perceive as predators.  Human mothers (and fathers) have that same instinct—I cannot imagine the anguish of the parents who have no idea what happened to their children.  The psychological fallout from this policy is impossible to comprehend and will take its toll for decades to come.

Yesterday, a new executive order went into place ending the separation.  But the blueprint for these families is still unfinished as there are legal concerns regarding incarceration of families.  Government officials acknowledge there is no game plan to reunite the thousands of isolated children with their parents.  These children, like debris from a tornado, or strewn across our great land.  230+ children have been brought to East Harlem.

Many of us have asked what we can do.  Here are a few suggestions to move us from despair to action.  Please know our social action committee is working to come up with a VT community response—perhaps aligning our congregations with other faith-based communities in NY.  In the meantime here are some concrete actions you/we can take:

1. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has provided a list of concrete steps including a list of needed clothing/personal items and a synagogue location in Texas where items to be sent.  Amazon would be the best mechanism for delivering these items.  We are also trying to discern if there is a way of getting direct aid to those children in Harlem.  If you would like to donate you can purchase the following items from Amazon, Zappos, or other online vendors of your choice and have them sent directly to: Temple Emanuel,  Rabbi Claudio Kogan 4300 North Chai Street McAllen, TX  78504

a. Disposable diapers–all sizes

b. Men’s shoe sizes 7 + 8

c. Women’s shoe sizes 5, 6, + 7

d. Bras 32B, 34B, + 36B

2. Tonight, June 21, T’ruah (Rabbinic call for Human Rights) has organized:  New York Jews Protest Separation of Families at Foley Square (111 Worth St.) at 6 p.m.  Participants will march together to the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices.

3. A protest march is being coordinated in Washington, DC on June 30.

4. There are six proposals before Congress. Click here for details about these proposals and ways you can contact our representatives in Washington.

Our prayers are with those who are in pain—children—parents—bystanders—our souls.

Tomorrow at Shabbat services, we will celebrate Gay Pride—its struggles and victories. Every celebration of liberation must be tempered by the reality that prejudice and victimization still plague our world and we must be instruments of justice for all those who are cast down…for the strangers in our midst.

Below is a prayer written by Alden Solovy, click here for a link to two pieces written by my colleagues:  May they be a source of solace and an inspiration for just action.

“For Children at Our Borders”

By Alden Solovy

God of mothers and fathers,

God of babies and children,

Youth and teens,

The voice of agony echoes across the land,

As children are taken from their parents,

Perverting our history as a nation of immigrants,

Perverting our values,

Perverting the ways of justice and peace.

These children

Wait in misery

To be reunited with their families

So that a few may reap the political rewards

Of their suffering

By playing tough at our borders.

Source of grace,

Creator of kindness and goodness,

You call upon us to stand in the name of justice and fairness,

To witness against this abuse of power,

To battle the systematic assault on human beings,

To speak out against their suffering.

Bless those who rise up against this horror.

Give them courage and determination.

Bless those who plead on behalf of the oppressed and the subjugated

Before the seats of power.

May the work of their hands never falter

Nor despair deter them from this holy calling.

Bless those now in bondage at the hand of the U.S. government.

Grant them shelter and solace,

Comfort and consolation,

Blessing and renewal.

Release them. Free them. Heal them from trauma.

Reunite them with their families.

Hasten the day of their reunion.

Blessed are You, God of All Being,

Who summons us to oppose violence, oppression, slavery and injustice.