Statement from the Jewish Community of Salt Lake City

Statement from the Leadership of the I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center, the United Jewish Federation of Utah, Jewish Family Service of Utah, and Congregation Kol Ami

Inherent in the missions of the I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center, the United Jewish Federation of Utah, Jewish Family Service of Utah, and Congregation Kol Ami is a commitment to nurture our basic Jewish values and to speak out when those values are threatened, even when threats are directed toward others in our greater community. One of Judaism’s most time-honored and practiced virtues – the virtue of Hachnasat Orchim – directs us to welcome the stranger; to offer hospitality. At the Passover Seder we welcome anyone who is hungry, who suffers from oppression or who has suffered because those in power distrust their presence.

The Torah’s commandments regarding strangers represent nothing more or less than the rigorous application of the principles of universal social justice. We believe this Jewish virtue aligns with the basic American value and tradition, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

The recent Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees challenges these values. Jews know what discrimination feels like having been categorized as “the other” and, therefore, we must object to this behavior when other communities, religions, or countries are treated this way. We believe that it’s possible to balance valid national security concerns about terrorism with equally pressing and overwhelming humanitarian needs.