Interfaith Immigrant Justice at Beth El

A Component of the Beth El Tikkun Olam Initiative

 

As members of a nation of immigrants, we are often outraged by the actions of our government at our borders, in our detention facilities, and in our schools impacting the children of undocumented parents. Over the past several years, the Beth El Interfaith Immigration Justice Committee has participated in various community activities (including educational sessions on Yom Kippur afternoon). The community events included protests at the West Contra Costa Detention Facility in Richmond, until the ICE contract was terminated and undocumented detainees were transferred to other facilities even further away from their families in the Bay Area. In connection to the protests, we launched the Beth El letter-writing project to communicate with detainees, under the leadership of Keren Stronach, keren@eaconsult.com. The focus of the protests shifted to monthly activities at the ICE headquarters in San Francisco, where Beth El recently sponsored the event led by Rabbi Kahn and Cantor Jenkins-Adelberg with the assistance of Caroline Lehman.

Our focus also shifted to exploring options for congregants to become more actively involved in immigration justice issues, either in small groups or as individuals. Several of us attended other educational events in the community that included training in:

    1) how to be a witness in the midst of an ICE raid on an undocumented family,

    2) how to pack the courts during detention proceedings to demonstrate community support, and

    3) how to remain current with changes in the community, that call for advocacy in the form of marches and lobbying efforts.

Among the many online sources of information are the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, www.im4humanintegrity.org; Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), https://www.surjbayarea.org/; National Immigrant Law Center, http://www.nilc.org/; and Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP), https://centrolegal.org/acilep/.

On March 31, the Beth El Interfaith Immigrant Justice Committee sponsored an educational event that brought representatives from four Bay Area organizations to share their volunteer and action programs with our congregation. These groups were:

Freedom for Immigrants —

Volunteer options include answering phones for their hotline, hosting and supporting asylum seekers, accompanying undocumented individuals at their ICE hearing, providing financial assistance to bail bond funding, and assisting with language translation. Read more about the organization at www.freedomforimmigrants.org; to get involved, email Caroline Lehman, camlehman@gmail.com).

Refugee Transitions —

This group is looking for people to work with immigrants through its educational programs (adult and youth home-based tutoring and mentoring, after school youth tutoring, assisting in adult literacy and citizenship classes, and summer camps) or its family engagement programs (assisting with community cultural events and local student/family field trips). Read more about the organization at www.reftrans.org; for more information contact Madelyn Stone, Madelyn_Stone@hotmail.com.

Jewish Coalition for Literacy —

Find out about working one-on-one or with small groups to help children or adults with reading, collecting age-appropriate books, helping students learn English in elementary schools, assisting in workshops for parents on lively story reading, and donating funds and/or your special skills (photographers, videographers and graphic designers). Read more about the organization at www.jclread.org/about-jcl; email Madelyn at MadelynStone@hotmail.com.

Oakland Promise —

This group works on advocacy, such as lobbying for the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 — H.R. 6; educating students and parents on Knowing Your Legal Rights www.nlgsf.org; fundraising for the East Bay College Fund and mentoring college-bound students. For more information, go to www.oaklandpromise.org/donate; contact Mike Austin at mjaustin@berkeley.edu.

If you want more information about volunteering at any of these organizations, a congregant’s name is noted with each organization.