JALSA invites you to join us for a special discussion and Jewish text study on the current state and federal efforts for immigration reform. We are excited to be joined by:
Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Co-chair, Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants
Guiding us through a conversation and purview of current legislative efforts to reform immigration policy
Rabbi Andrew Vogel
Temple Sinai, Brookline
Guiding us through an exploration of Jewish textual sources on the importance of progressive and just immigration policy
We come from a tradition that teaches us to welcome the stranger, not simply because it is right to do so but because we too were once strangers in an unfamiliar land. For most of us, this is a question, not only of Torah, but of our own family history. The lives of our parents and grandparents, if not ourselves, have been narratives of immigration. We have benefited when policies of citizenship and entry have been progressive and we have suffered greatly when they have been driven by xenophobia. Our tradition teaches the importance of study that leads to action. We hope you can join us as we look to that tradition’s texts and learn what they say about how a state must treat its immigrants and how we are called upon to act. If you are on our email list (can sign up on this page, left side) you’ll also be receiving an email with a list of upcoming actions that you can take to advance comprehensive immigration reform. Please RSVP (if possible) to email@example.com. Sincerely, Sheila Decter, Executive Director
The Jewish Advocate, Vol 204, No. 19. Sivan 5773, May 10, 2013
Rational Immigration Reform must be Passed.
On May 12, 2008, the largest immigration raid in the United States to date, in which 389 persons were arrested, occurred in Postville, Iowa. The company that was raided, Agriprocessors, was the largest kosher meat packing plant in America and owned by a Hasidic family. As in 2007, after an army of federal agents descended on a New Bedford textile factory and arrested 361 immigrants, strong calls for comprehensive immigration reform were heard. Despite advocacy by then-President Bush and President Obama, it has not been accomplished.
As Jews committed to social and economic justice, we found the Postville raid doubly painful. First, it tore hundreds of families apart, often with a mother or father suddenly imprisoned for months and then summarily deported. Most of the deportees had no prior criminal records. Second, we were distressed that the raided workplace was a site for production of kosher products that we would normally have been confident to purchase and serve our families. Kosher insignia on food products convey high standards of preparation and, perhaps naively, we would not have expected exploitation of immigrants to be a factor in their production.
After Postville, Jewish groups and kosher consumers engaged in awareness and advocacy campaigns. They raised funds to help workers’ families caught up in these raids and spurred enforcement of worker rights within the kosher food industry. The Conservative movement created a new Magen Tzedek certification, indicating that food products have been prepared in keeping with Jewish ethics, including workers’ rights.
Now, on the fifth anniversary of Postville, Congress should pass rational immigration reform that includes a reasonable and clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and inclusion of bi-national same-sex couples. This is a human issue and an economic issue on which it’s high time for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground.
Sheila Decter, Executive Director; Jeff Stone, Board Member
Jewish Journal of the North Shore
VOL 37, NO 21, MAY 16, 2013 – 7 SIVAN, 5773
Still Fighting for Immigration Reform
Five years ago, the small town of Postville, Iowa, was torn apart when 389 undocumented workers at Agriprocessors, America’s largest kosher meat packing plant, were arrested, detained for five months and finally deported to Guatemala, where many had fled violence and poverty.
Everyday, Homeland Security and ICE take mothers, fathers, children and friends away from their loved ones.
Our community has a special responsibility to remember Postville, and not simply because the food prepared there by the exploitation of immigrant workers was labeled kosher and served in our stores and on our Shabbat tables. We are called to remember Postville and the deportations because not so long ago, it was we who were strangers. We were the ones denied entry and shuffled back and forth across borders as we fled from violence. We were the ones who were unwelcome.
Many of our parents and grandparents were luckier than immigrants today. If a path of citizenship had been as unavailable as it is for many today, we would perhaps not be here today. JALSA believes it is a Jewish duty to work for just immigration reform in this country. We believe in including same sex partners, older children and siblings in the category of family members who can apply for a green card. We remember Jewish families divided by immigration policies, and what that meant for those left behind.
Five years after Postville, and millions of other detentions and deportations, our nation can wait no longer. We need comprehensive immigration reform now.
Jeremy Wood and Sheila Decter, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
On Wednesday, May 8, the New York City Council approved Sick-Day Pay (LINK) Please support our friends and colleagues who fought so hard for years to win this important victory!
JALSA needs your help with recruiting more business supporters who will come out to the Earned Sick Time Bill hearing to neutralize the big business organizations. If you own a business or know of one that supports providing earned sick time for their employees, please contact Barbara Gutman (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible.
The following appeared on Bostonglobe.com: Headline: Proposal to mandate paid sick days gaining momentum – The Boston Globe
Date: Apr 15, 2013 A nearly decade-long effort to require Massachusetts employers to offer paid sick days to workers is gaining new momentum as similar proposals get enacted into law across the country. At least five cities and one state, Connecticut, have mandated that employers provide the benefit in recent years with New York City poised to join them after the City Council recently reached agreement to enact legislation requiring businesses with 20 or more employees to offer five paid sick days a year. Similar proposals are under consideration in Philadelphia and Vermont. In Massachusetts, supporters say these victories are giving new life to legislation that was first filed in 2005, but has foundered in the face of opposition from businesses. Even opponents say the tide may be turning.
“It’s the difference between being able to put food on the table or not,” Sheila Decter of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action said.
The above quote was taken from the March 21, 2013 article posted on the website of the Patriot Ledger by Janine Mullaney reporting on the demonstration for Earned Sick Time in Quincy.
“The rally called on the Legislature to pass a bill introduced by Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, back in January. The measure would ensure that the nearly one million Massachusetts workers who do not currently have access to paid sick time are able to earn time off to be used if they or a family member becomes ill.”