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In today’s world, when we read the news, it’s easy to get down and out about the state of affairs—parents being separated from their children at the Southern border, environmental policy-makers denying the existence of climate change, women’s rights being threatened by far-right conservative judge nominations. All of these things, and more, cry out for our sustained action, for not standing idly by.
At the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), our members strive to create a world that is more just and compassionate for all. While our work spans a plethora of different social justice causes, the actions of the federal administration regarding immigration have demanded our immediate attention.
A few weeks ago, Sen. Ed Markey asked JALSA to lead an effort to collect letters and artwork from children in Massachusetts, which he wanted to personally deliver to children currently being held in Texas detention centers. Within 36 hours, JALSA had collected over 431 pieces of hope for children whose very humanity is being questioned. The outpour of support was a true testament to our Jewish values and our tradition’s emphasis on creating welcoming spaces for those who are in need and are suffering.
And just this week, we hosted Rep. Katherine Clark for what we called “Knishes with Katherine,” another in our series of crowdraisers with local politicians centered around good Jewish food and discussion. The congresswoman shared with us her concerns about how immigration is being dealt with in Congress right now and talked about how it relates to families, specifically women and children.
The congresswoman also said that JALSA gets the “good trouble” vibe, quoting civil rights legend and congressman John Lewis. She lauded our work as a model of what works and encouraged us to keep fighting for what is right.
JALSA is also working on the state level to encourage our own legislators and governor to adopt due process protections for immigrants in Massachusetts so that we can protect people within our state who fear for their status and safety in our country right now. Through our organizing of Tzedek Reflection, a group that brings together people from over 25 synagogues, we are helping to support the work of hundreds of volunteers involved in accompaniment, education, sanctuary and other programs of assistance to immigrants.
One of the most promising things about these actions is that people are coming together because they truly believe in the underlying values of our democracy and the central Jewish value that we must respect the dignity of every individual. Here at JALSA, we are glad to be able to bring volunteers into this work, and that gives us hope for the future.