“There’s nothing more American than welcoming refugees—and nothing more Jewish.”
That’s how HIAS’ Education Director, Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, summed up the collective attitude of the American Jewish movement to welcome refugees, especially over the past 18 months.
On Monday, May 14, Meyer spoke with Ashley Ford, host of BRIC TV’s 112BK, a daily news and culture show broadcast, about the state of U.S. refugee admissions, the lessons of the MS St. Louis, and how Jewish values and history come into play at HIAS.
“I know that a lot of the work you do obviously is fueled by your faith, not in spite of your faith,” said Ford, “how did you come to an understanding that your faith maybe even required this work?”
“We’re told, ‘love the stranger because you were strangers in the land of Egypt, so you know the soul of the stranger,’” Meyer replied.
“That hebrew word for soul is nefesh, so it gets translated as soul, but I think it means you know the vulnerability of a stranger,” she added.
“You know what it was like to have to rebuild your life, and you have an obligation to do that for other people.”
“In the Jewish tradition, in the Jewish community, often when we learn about the Holocaust, when we talk about the Holocaust, we say Never Again,” Meyer continued.
“I keep asking myself: What do these words mean in the context of these really xenophobic, anti-refugee policies? It’s not the fulfillment of Never Again—we’re in it again.”
Click here to watch the full segment.