Rabbi Marla Hornsten

The Michigan Board of Rabbis joins with the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Cantors Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Republican and Democrat government leaders, and other U.S. and global Jewish organizations in condemning the recent executive order barring many refugees and immigrants from entering our country.

Certainly, preservation of life is among the highest of Jewish values, and the preservation of one’s own life and that of one’s family certainly takes precedence over another’s life (Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 62a).

Therefore, we support the executive order’s goal of ensuring “that those admitted to [the United States] do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles … [and prohibiting the admission of] those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender or sexual orientation.”

As our community’s JCRC/AJC wrote in its statement, “We live in a dangerous world, and as such we endorse appropriate, lengthy and stringent background checks for all potential refugees.”

However, for many reasons, including feeding the terrorists’ propaganda and that the vast majority of those seeking entrance to our country are fleeing oppression, this executive order fails to fulfill its own goals and, furthermore, it serves as an affront to religious people everywhere.

The Torah demands, “You shall not stand by the blood of your friend” (Leviticus 19:16). Based on this mitzvah (sacred obligation), our rabbis conclude that if one sees another in a life- threatening situation, then one is obligated to intercede in order to save a person from certain harm — even if saving that person holds the potential to put the rescuer’s life in danger (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 73a).

In addition, we hold dear the Torah’s frequent reminder that we Jews understand what it is like to be considered the “stranger,” and thus we hold aloft the teaching, “And you shall not wrong a stranger, neither shall you oppress them; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

Finally, we are disturbed that this executive order violates our moral obligation, “Justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20), by fomenting xenophobia and creating an unjust and immoral religious test for those seeking life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Therefore, in our desire and our efforts to protect the United States of America — its citizens and residents, its laws and ideals — and in our faith’s expectation that we strive to lead Jewish lives of holiness and righteousness, we call upon President Donald Trump to rescind this executive order. We further pray that we shall work together to help bring the day when “every person shall sit under his/her vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).

Rabbi Marla Hornsten

Rabbi Marla Hornsten is president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis. This letter was also signed by other rabbis of that organization.


  1. In 2015 and again these days more than 1,000 American rabbis called on the United States to open its doors to Muslim, not Christian, refugees seeking sanctuary. The rabbis made bad judgemental mistakes: They were poorly informed, acted though emotions ignoring the ramification of their vis a’ vis to their own communities. Only 30% of the Muslim aliens are Syrian. The rest are Iraqi, Lebanese, Afghani, Pakistani and Irani. Each comes with a different language, dialects, culture that we are not familiar with, a Tower of Babylon. These aliens are not refugees. They came for economic reasons including the generous social benefits the EU, US, Canada provide. They have no assets, no skills, no education, no understanding US. Almost all 98% are devout Muslims demanding, as in Minnesota, Halal food, mosque and cultural center. 80% are males younger than 25 who will demand family unification, bring wife 1, 2, 3, and since we do not accept polygamy these will be considered “single mothers” with average 4 children each and extended family, in 5 years it means 100 folks which will not only burden our economy but create a demographic change that is not good for the Jews. This already happen in Dearborn, Hamtramck and Minnesota. (See article A Watershed for America’s Jews? Rael Jean Isaac). This ban on Muslims was approve by poles in every European country though politicians, as in this country never listen to public opinion and this is how modern Robin Hood TRUMP emerged. Our rabbis, with due respect, fail to understand the dire consequences of Muslim infiltration which is not going through the melting pot of Americanism. Worse, as a community activist for 15 years, I was never engaged in discussions with rabbis though I tried. The rabbis represent our community and should listen to what we the people say.

  2. Dear Rabbi Marla,

    Thank you for this beautiful article, pointing out the true Jewish values of social justice and the mitzvah of welcome. As an immigration and refugee lawyer, I can tell you that we depend a great deal on the faith community and it’s leaders in this particular struggle. Our clients, too, rely heavily on faith to get them through horrors that we can, unfortunately, imagine – through the lens of what too many of our families suffered. And it is inevitably the faith community that speaks for our clients when they are silenced, and welcomes them when others turn a cold, blind eye to the suffering from which they have fled. It warms my heart in particular to see rabbis in this struggle.

    With much gratitude,

    Miriam Marton
    Director, Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network
    University of Tulsa, College of Law

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