The commandment to treat the stranger (ger) with respect and dignity is cited 36 times in the Hebrew Bible, more than any other commandment, probably because it’s among the most difficult of the 613 commandments to fulfill.
Most people gather together for comfort, support, and a sense of belonging in their familial, tribal, ethnic, cultural, and national groupings, but at the same time they can become distant from and suspicious of strangers (i.e. the “other”).
Dr. King observed:
“People don’t get along because they fear each other. People fear each other because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other.”
There is much we Americans don’t understand about the “other,” especially those who come from foreign lands and who, based on a “well-founded fear of persecution” should they return to their home countries of origin, wish desperately to live in the United States.
We Jews understand well their plight, their fears, their desires and dreams based upon our own historical experience as a people who were expelled over and again from country after country as we sought safety and solace. Can we as a nation not provide that same blessing of safety and hope for others?
The Biden-Harris campaign’s values and policies concerning immigration, asylum, and “the other” comport completely with our own historic Jewish moral values and are irrefutably opposed to the Trump Administration’s xenophobic, discriminatory, bigoted, and cruel treatment of immigrant men, women, and children wishing to enter the United States.
The following are Jewish texts affirming our people’s moral and religious obligations to the ger-stranger [I’m grateful to “Rabbis for Biden” for helping to collect these passages]:
“You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” –Exodus 22:20 – 9th century B.C.E., Israel
“You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Here it says simply and absolutely, “for you were strangers,” your whole misfortune in Egypt was that you were strangers there. As such, according to the views of other nations, you had no right to be there, has no claim to rights of settlement, home, or property. Accordingly, you had no rights in appeal against unfair or unjust treatment. As aliens you were without any rights in Egypt, out of that grew all of your bondage and oppression, your slavery and wretchedness. Therefore beware, so runs the warning, from making rights in your own State conditional on anything other than on that simple humanity which every human being as such bears within. With any limitation in these human rights the gate is opened to the whole horror of Egyptian mishandling of human beings.” –Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Exodus 22:20 – 19th century C.E., Germany
“The ger. . . is a resident alien who has uprooted oneself (or has been uprooted) from one’s homeland and has taken permanent residence in the land of Israel…Having severed one’s ties with one’s original home, that person has no family to turn to for support. Thus deprived of both land and family, the ger was generally poor, listed together with the Levite, the orphan, and the widow among the wards of society (Deuteronomy 26:12), and exposed to exploitation and oppression.” (Ezekiel 22:7) –Rabbi Jacob Milgrom, “Reflections on the Biblical Ger,” Leviticus 17-22 (Anchor Bible, 2000), United States
“There shall be one law for you and for the stranger; it shall be a law for all time throughout the ages. You and the stranger shall be alike before God. The same ritual and the same rule shall apply to you and to the stranger who resides among you.” –Numbers 15: 15-16 – 9th century B.C.E., Israel
“The great moral to be derived is that every government among the people Israel possesses an obligation to conduct itself with integrity and fairness towards its minorities and those who are strangers in its midst. In so doing, it will sanctify the Name of Heaven and the name of Israel in the world.” –Rabbi Hayyim David Halevi, “Aseh L’kha Rav 7:70 – 20th century, Israel
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
–Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus – 19th century, United States
Biden-Harris Policy Platform on Immigration
The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation. As President, Biden will forcefully pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values by:
- Taking urgent action to undo Trump’s damage and reclaim America’s values
- Modernizing America’s immigration system
- Welcoming immigrants in our communities
- Reasserting America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees
- Tackling the root causes of irregular migration
- Implementing effective border screening
Read more about Joe’s vision for immigration at https://joebiden.com/immigration/#
I ask that you distribute these blogs to anyone interested in what the vast majority of liberal American Jews believe (according to all polls) especially those living in the states identified by the Democratic presidential campaign where the closest results will likely occur: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Especially distribute these blogs to young potential voters who historically turn out in smaller numbers relative to their percentage of the population and encourage everyone to vote early unless they are willing to stand in line at polling places despite the health risks.
Past Blogs include the following:
JEWISH VALUES AND THE BIDEN-HARRIS TICKET – Blog #1
HEALTH CARE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #2
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #3
THE ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #4
SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog#5