Reform Jewish Congregations are being urged to protect undocumented immigrants facing deportation. The Union for Reform Judaism’s North American Board of Trustees took this historic step in response to the growing concern about an increase in deportation activity by federal authorities and Congress’s failure to comprehensively address immigration reform. This resolution responds to the urgent need of undocumented immigrants living in fear of deportation. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) have historically stood with immigrants and refugees, and this resolution provides guidance and support for congregations doing this vital work today. 

Returning from Israel on the 2017 URJ Board Mission last week, I was handed a gift basket of food with an important message to share.

Miriam Chilton
Group of people holding various handmade signs welcoming and supporting refugees

The concept of “sanctuary” congregations has many definitions and applications. In the 1980s, Reform Movement congregations provided sanctuary primarily to central Americans at risk of deportation.

the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Sign welcoming refugees with a Canadian flag

In late 2015 and early 2016, members of the Holy Blossom Temple community in Toronto raised funds to sponsor two Syrian families.

Sara Charney
Press Release
Press Release

In response to President Trump’s executive order barring entry to the United States for refugees, immigrants and others from several majority-Muslim countries, the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement:

“The Reform Movement denounces in the strongest terms the horrifying executive order on immigration and refugees issued late Friday evening by President Trump. The order signed yesterday is even worse than feared, barring entry of all Syrian refugees, imposing in essence a religious test for entry to the U.S., and refusing entry to any individual coming from a list of majority-Muslim nations – betraying even those individuals who have supported our nation's military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Families are now being held apart and countless individuals who have served our nation in the most difficult circumstances are in jeopardy.

A congregation at Temple Sholom in Canada chose decided to privately sponsor two families from Syria.

Karen Wallace Lipson