Nearly 20 rabbis were arrested in New York City Monday night after they staged a sit-in near the Trump International Hotel to protest the president’s policies—particularly his Muslim ban.
According to the New York Times, the Jewish leaders were part of a group of 200 people that gathered near the hotel, brandishing signs that read “Jews support our Muslim friends” and “Never again.” The primarily Jewish participants chanted slogans in support of refugees as they marched toward the iconic tower, shouting “Show me what the Torah looks like!”
— Gili Getz (@giligetz) February 7, 2017
Once there, a group of rabbis stretched across the road to stage a sit-in, singing hymns and blocking traffic until they were removed and arrested by police.
The demonstration was organized by T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization based in New York that is hosting a convening in the city this week. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director and one of the rabbis who was arrested last night, said the group’s opposition to the Muslim ban is rooted in Jewish history.
“For us as Jews, this really hits us in the gut, because we remember that U.S. borders were once closed to us,” Jacobs told ThinkProgress, referencing when the U.S. government turned away thousands of Jewish refugees prior to World War II, fearing they could be Nazi spies. “The language used [to keep Jews out]…is the same language now being used to close our borders based on national origin. It’s a ban that is both immoral and inhumane and that doesn’t keep any of us safe.”
“For us as Jews, this really hits us in the gut, because we remember that U.S. borders were once closed to us.”
“If America stops being America [by refusing refugees], it stops being safe for Jews, and it stops being safe for anyone who is not white and Christian,” she added. “There is an important principle in Judaism that you violate just about every law to save another human being…There is no question that the ban is a life and death situation.”
The demonstration is part of a growing surge of faith-based opposition to President Trump and his policies—especially his Muslim ban, which has been condemned by a staggering number of American religious groups. Faith institutions of all stripes have also taken stands against his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his various cabinet picks, and his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, among others.