Dear President Trump,
I was named for a woman of prayer, a rabbi’s wife, a woman of faith named Judy who was murdered in Auschwitz. Our country’s doors were then closed by fear of the other, of potential threats, and of having to share. We seemed to be a country of immigrants closing the gates behind us.
At 12, my father arrived on our steady shores. His Munich childhood and the lives of so many members of his family tree were stolen by Hitler and by millions more – by perpetrators, by bystanders near, and by bystanders far. At 18, though not a fighter my father fought. He was a US Army soldier who earned a purple heart and a bronze star and helped to defeat the Nazis. Our United Nations was then created recognizing that human rights matter and refugees matter.
On this day, as I look at the world I am wondering whether the same values hold true. I see so many refugees fleeing hatred, escaping fear, on rickety overfull boats, on overcrowded trucks through the desert’s path with suffocating sand. On weary feet they flee: threatened, exploited, hurt at every turn in every way. They are fleeing fear, escaping fear, and the blessed few, who made it here are still living in fear.
President Trump, I pray that you will follow America’s great tradition of welcoming the tired, the poor, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (as Emma Lazarus’ words on our Statue of Liberty so eloquently state). I hope you will affirm through your actions, as the United Nations did more than 60 years ago, that refugees matter and that human rights matter.
May you be blessed with wisdom and skill. May you be a model for our own country’s children and for the world of what it means to lead with love, with compassion, with dignity, and with respect for all.
With prayers for peace,
Rabbi Judy Schindler