Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld spent the day on Tuesday in El Paso and Tornillo, Texas, calling for an end to the inhumane policy of family separations and detentions and the violations of the basic rights of asylum seekers. She joined a national delegation of labor, educational and faith leaders organized by the American Federation of Teachers. The delegation sought to deliver books and toys to the children but were denied entry.

“Amidst the heartbreak, it was truly inspiring to be with such a humble, down-to-earth, focused, dedicated and in-it-for-the-long-haul group of educators, activists and religious leaders,” Rabbi Anisfeld said.

She was among those who offered prayers during an interfaith vigil at the Tornillo Detention Center, where children are still being held.

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld with other clergy during the interfaith vigil at the detention center in Tornillo, Texas. (Photo: Harold Levine)

Prayer for Immigrant Children and Families by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Elohei haruchot l’chol basar
God of the spirits of all flesh
We came here from all over this great country and beyond
To say no.
To say no to those who would tear children from their parents’ arms.
To say no to those who are in no rush to reunite them now.
To say no to a policy that deprives people of all ages
of the basic international human right to seek asylum in our country.
To say no to those making our border famous for brutality and heartbreak.


But more than that
Av Harachamim
Father of all fathers
Mother of all mothers
Source of all compassion—
We are here to say yes.
Yes to children and to families.
Yes to the sanctity, to the preciousness, to the dignity of all life, created in Your image.
Yes to the truth of Your Oneness, and ours.
Yes to the breathtaking beauty of our world—
And yes to the vital moral fabric of our lives.
To those who would tear that fabric apart,
We are here to say—we will always show up to stitch it back together.
We walk in the footsteps of our ancestor Abraham
Who “stitched worlds together”
Who saw connection everywhere
Who was commanded to be a blessing to all the families of the earth.

We know that it is so much easier—and faster—to tear things apart
Than it is to stitch them together.
But we will keep showing up for as long as it takes.

Because we are parents ourselves
Because we are teachers
Because we are witnesses
Because we are weavers
Because we are threads
in the tapestry of Your creation.

We will stitch together what has been torn apart.
Dear God, please give us strength. Give us wisdom. Give us courage.
Gather us all in the embrace of your unending love.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
Listen, you who struggle,
And bear witness to the One God who holds us all.

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