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Cantor’s Corner December 20, 2018

12/19/2018 05:19:38 PM


Welcoming the Stranger – 3,000 Years Ago And Right Now!

The current immigration crisis on the Mexican border is a hugely divisive issue that inflames opinions and emotions.  Exaggeration and “catastrophizing” are common to all side of the debate.  

Our Torah tell us 36 times to “welcome the stranger”.  This commandment is repeated more times than any other commandment in the Torah.  The importance of this mitzvah transcends the details of politics. We are told to welcome the stranger “because you were strangers in a strange land” – referring to our slavery in Egypt.

Our people’s immigration to Egypt from Canaan is contained in the Torah portions for last week and this week – Parshaiyot Vayigash and Vayechi.  We were refugees fleeing drought and famine, invited to resettle in Egypt by Joseph after he reconciles with his brothers.  Egypt had an immigration crisis on all its borders at that time.  Joseph is described as carefully managing the resettlement to alleviate the concerns of the Egyptians about this huge influx of foreigners.  
Torah does not just command us to welcome the stranger, but gives us practical examples of how to do so.  

We have a wonderful opportunity right now to fulfill this commandment.  The Jewish Family Service has partnered with several other religious and social organizations to assist local migrant families whose asylum claims are being processed. There is a need for volunteer help at a San Diego shelter, donations of clothing and travel items and financial assistance.  These families are awaiting transportation to other U.S. cities where they will stay with family members and appear at their ICE hearings.  

This does not take the place of our December or January Mitzvot of the Month – this is an additional opportunity to take action as a sacred community.  A sacred community gathers for prayer and celebration and learning and commits individual and group energy to tikkun olam – healing the world.

We will shortly announce a coordinator for this Mitzvah Project.  Until then, please reach out to Christa Mandel at for information on what types of clothing and other items are needed, where to drop off donations, and how to register with JFS as a volunteer.

Volunteering at this time of year is a particularly special opportunity for Jews.  The Christian churches and individuals will want to be with their families at Christmas – we can fill the gap by being available when they are not.  

Please consider helping a migrant family today!

Shabbat Shalom,     Cantor Caitlin Bromberg

Sun, July 21 2019 18 Tammuz 5779