Indiana Jewish Community Statement Opposing the Presidential Executive Order to Bar Immigrants and Refugees

Updated Monday, February 13, 2017

We, the undersigned Jewish organizations throughout the State of Indiana, oppose the Presidential Executive Order, which suspends the United States refugee program and bars immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.  We join the overwhelming chorus of national Jewish organizations, along with all four major American Jewish denominations, who have issued similar statements voicing strenuous concern and opposition to this executive order.

Welcoming refugees and immigrants is central to who we are as Americans and as Jews.  Denying refuge to those most vulnerable violates the best traditions of the United States and our deepest obligations as Jews.  Judaism instructs, repeatedly and unambiguously, that we are forbidden from oppressing – and in fact must welcome – the stranger.  Our Jewish values and historical experience as immigrants and refugees, mandate that we repudiate policies that demonize, ostracize, and leave stranded refugees and other vulnerable immigrants.

American Jews know first-hand the difficulties we and our relatives endured in escaping religious and political persecution.  Indeed, many of us have family members who were denied entry to the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s, as they attempted to flee Nazi persecution.  We will not stand idly by as today’s victims of war and terror are left helpless and isolated.

It goes without saying that the United States must protect its own citizens from terrorist threats.  However, a more appropriate American response to such threats should both fully address national security concerns, while also protecting legitimate refugees, regardless of their national or religious identity.  Policies that implicitly target specific religious groups should be avoided.

The executive order will also negatively impact Jewish refugees from Muslim-majority countries.  In 2016, HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, handled 90 requests of Jews from Iran and Yemen (two of the seven countries from which immigration is banned) seeking asylum in the U.S.  Families in their greatest hour of need, whose entry to the United States was approved following years of review, vetting and due diligence, are now being turned away.

The Indiana Jewish community affirms our commitment to:

  • advocate for a fair and humane immigration policy;
  • speak out against those who seek to divide religious communities based on fear and xenophobia;
  • support those who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, or to whom they pray; and
  • stand alongside our friends and neighbors in the Muslim community, who are rightly concerned about the implications this ban will have on their loved ones.

Faced with the largest global refugee crisis of our time, we hope the Congress, Administration, and Judiciary will work to effect constitutional and moral policies that are equitably applied and welcoming to those yearning to breathe free.

Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council

Lindsey B. Mintz, Executive Director

Judy Failer, President

Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis

Debra Barton Grant, CEO

Offer Korin, President

Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne

Jaki Schreier, Executive Director

Ron Friedman, President

Jewish Federation of Greater Lafayette

Gwen Wallace, President

Indiana Board of Rabbis

Butler University Hillel

Dori Chandler, Coordinator of Jewish Life

Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, Indiana University

Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg, Executive Director

Jewish Studies Program, Purdue University

Daniel Frank, Director

Congregation Achduth Vesholom, Fort Wayne, IN Lenny Sarko, Rabbi H. Joseph Cohen, President

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis, IN

Dennis C. Sasso, Senior Rabbi

Rebecca Geyer, President

Congregation Beth Shalom, Bloomington, IN

Congregation Beth Shalom, Carmel, IN

Stanley Halpern, Rabbi

Karen Friedman, President

Congregation Sons of Abraham, Lafayette, IN

David A. Sanders, President

Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation

Brett Krichiver, Senior Rabbi

Patti Freeman-Dorson, President

Temple Adath B’nai Israel, Evansville, IN

Gary Mazo, Rabbi

Temple Beth El, Muncie, IN

Anne Eliades, President

Temple Beth-El, Munster, IN

Leonard Zukrow, Rabbi

Dr. Terry Harman, President

Temple Beth-El, South Bend, IN

Karen Companez, Rabbi

Mara Boettcher, President

Temple Israel, Gary, IN

Niles Goldstein, Rabbi

Lisa Giglio, President

National Jewish Organizations:

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Anti-Defamation League

American Jewish Committee

American Jewish World Service


Jewish Religious Denominations: