Jews join Lights for Liberty vigils at Detroit’s ICE headquarters to express objections to Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Featured photo by Marc Sussman
On Friday, July 12, demonstrators took to the streets of cities across the state and across the country as part of “Lights for Liberty” vigils to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
In Detroit, a crowd estimated at 600 stood before the Rosa Parks Federal Building, the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), lining both sides of Mount Elliott Street, waving signs and chanting slogans, beginning well before the official starting time of 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., a series of speakers, beginning with Holocaust survivor Rene Lichtman of West Bloomfield, presented their objections to current policy.
Drivers of dozens of cars honked their horns and flashed thumbs-up signs to the protesters they drove past the rally. No counter-protesters were on the scene, but some police officers were stationed near the peaceful protest.
Many in the crowd were Jewish, such as Sharon Luckerman of Detroit, who commented on the ethnic and religious backgrounds of those at the rally. “I was moved to see the mix of Detroiters at the ICE rally. When Detroit works, when it brings people together, that’s when Detroit’s a beautiful city,” she said. “I was at the rally as a Jew and as a Detroiter. By 2019, we should be much further along in the way our countrymen and women treat people, including immigrants.”
A large sign held aloft by a team of demonstrators declared “the Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism Declares Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees.”
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick of the Birmingham Temple, who attended the protest, explained his congregation’s involvement: “What is going on at the border is beyond our imagination, a flagrant dismissal of human rights beyond anything we could have anticipated from a modern American government.
“It represents one of the greatest crises of moral failure in the modern history of America, which, though we have a long history of such failures, we have always worked to rise above and learn from them.
“What is happening now recalls the internment of the Japanese Americans in World War II, the treatment of Native Americans and our long legacy of racism.
“We have to be there for the stranger; if we haven’t learned that from Jewish history, then what is the point? What have we learned at all?
“As Humanists,” he continued, “we are committed to the diginity of every single human being as much as we are committed to the diginity of our own. We must demand that they — whoever they are — be treated the way we would want for our own.”
Sheila Glass of Southfield attended the rally as part of the Birmingham Temple contingent.
“I was glad to be there because I am outraged at the growing acceptance of the way people are being treated in this country,” she said. “Treating people this way is not supposed to happen in this democracy. It is necessary to protest the active dehumanization that is taking place.”
Marc Sussman of Huntington Woods, a member at Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield, said, “I was acutely aware that it was erev Shabbat, and I was thinking of the Torah commandment of how we are to treat strangers because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. I was hoping to show our fellow Americans that we object to the horrors being committed in our name — and we say, ‘Not in our name.’”
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