At the gateway of our country stands the Statue of Liberty. Emma Lazuraus wrote these words for it’s base.
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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!”
From 1881 to 1924 more than 3 million Jews left Eastern Europe and came to America in search of hope in a Land of Promise. This was the largest migration of Jews since the Exodus from Egypt. Many of our families trace our roots to this time. As a people, we Jews know what it is to be new and at the margins of society. Our Torah teaches “Welcome the stranger, for you were strangers in a strange land.” This is repeated 36 times in the Torah! Thus, making it the most emphasized mitzvah of our tradition.
Tonight, at the Temple we are observing Refugee Shabbat along with hundreds of synagogues in North America. Jane Dixon, of the Interfaith Council for New Americans, will speak. At our Virtual Oneg, we will welcome a new neighbor to Westchester, Haroon Gafruri, who recently emigrated from Afghanistan. Please join us tonight to welcome Haroon, as we fulfill the mitzvah of “Welcoming the Stranger.”
Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorah, May it be Shabbat of Peace and Blessings
Rabbi David Wilfond