Today is June 27, 2017 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

Riverwalk - 360 Merrimack Street
Building 5, 3rd Floor
Lawrence, MA 01843-1740

(978) 474-0540

The President’s Corner

Dear Friends,

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have found myself seriously considering the responsibility to disobey unjust laws this past week. On Yom Hashoah I reflected on the courage of the Righteous Gentiles who defied unjust laws to save the life of Jews in World War II. On Tuesday I attended a press conference at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church at which over 20 clergy members announced the creation of a Merrimack Valley Sanctuary Network, which will provide support and sanctuary for undocumented immigrants—in clear violation of what many people view as an unjust law. In preparation to serve as a marshal at the upcoming Day Without Immigrants march in Lawrence, I attended a civil disobedience training that forced me to repeatedly ask, “What non-violent measures would I be willing to take to protect an undocumented immigrant from being arrested and deported—which I see as unjust?”

Clearly, discerning between just and unjust laws is not always easy. Although I believe that it is an
unjust law that mandates the deportation of undocumented immigrants whose only crime is being here illegally, I can understand those who disagree with me. I just know that I can’t turn away from the plight of America’s undocumented immigrants, and although I’m not comparing our government with Hitler’s Nazi regime, there is something scarily reminiscent when an entire category of people in our country is living in fear.

The press conference announcing the creation of a Merrimack Valley Sanctuary Network indicates that many communities of faith in our area believe that the current law regarding undocumented immigrants is unjust. The organization that has brought these faith communities (as well as labor and community groups) together is called the Merrimack Valley Project (MVP). At the next board meeting, the CBI Social Action Committee and I will ask the board to officially join the MVP.

MVP has worked since 1989 to promote the welfare of the Merrimack Valley and to achieve lasting
justice and prosperity for all. MVP is a well-respected entity in the area, and is known for working within the system to bring about desired change. The Social Action Committee and I want CBI to be part of the good work that is being done by MVP. The vast majority of this work is directed toward changing existing law and policy and working as a community on behalf of the community. Although the Sanctuary Network does entail civil disobedience, people can be involved with MVP without being involved in the Network. So whether you want to engage in some tikun olam and help to change some unjust laws and policies or you want to engage in a bit of civil disobedience, you’ll find an important role to play at MVP.

Thank you,
Tanya Gould, President
Clergy rally in Lowell for immigrants (VIDEO) – By Amaris Castillo,
LOWELL — The clergy members stood shoulder to shoulder Tuesday at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church with a promise to help undocumented immigrants.
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