Changing the Tide

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by Leopold Manswell

Jewish leaders took to the streets on the evening of February 6 to oppose President Trump’s recent travel ban. Eighteen days into the new presidential term, rabbis rallied together outside of Trump Tower on Central Park West to sing and chant their disapproval of the president’s immigration ruling.

“Right now we are outside the Trump Hotel & Tower to protest the executive order that was signed,” said Salem Pierce, a rabbi in training. “This is in reference to the anti-Muslim ban and the anti-immigrant ban because we believe as Jews and as human beings we have to stand against oppression and suffering, and that’s what this has caused.”

Pierce compared the plight of the Muslim refugees to that of Jews in World War II.

“The St. Louis, a boat with 900 Jewish refugees, was turned away in the late 30s, and almost all of those people were turned to Germany and killed,” she said.

Although the crowd of rabbis was modest in comparison to the millions involved with the women’s march, the assembly did not go unnoticed. This may have had something to do with the music incorporated in their protest, which served as an initial head turner. Harmonizing to a guitar and other instruments, the rabbis chanted and occasionally broke away from song to inform the onlookers about the cause of their protest.

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Some of the signs turned toward street lights were as simple: “We will build this world from love” and “Jews march for justice.” Another sign read, “Aliens come from outer space. Humans come from other countries.”

For anyone strolling through midtown that night, would, in a matter of minutes, have experienced an enlightenment of sorts by Jews who were ready to explain their truth. “We’ve come from all over the country and we’re deeply concerned about all different sorts of aspects of the Trump’s administration policies, including especially — the executive order concerning refugees and immigrants,” said Rabbi David Cooper. “Many of the people who are citizens, they’re not having a problem entering the country, except that they are having relatives that are having a problem,” he said. “It’s really heartbreaking to see how worried they are about their children.”

It was clear talking to the rabbis that their biggest objective was to prevent the reshaping of a progressing America. “We’ve seen that in our own history in Eastern Europe under Hitler, under the Nazi regime,” said a rabbi who identified herself as Julia. “It’s important at times like these, when people are using rhetoric that is a little too close to what we’ve heard before for us, to stand upright at the beginning because that is how you change the tide.”

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