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Sanctuary Movement

"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33).

Brit OlamThis is the most-repeated commandment in all of Torah. With the Board of Directors' action, Temple Beth Am joins a growing cohort of Reform congregations that have signed on to the Religious Action Center's Brit Olam (Covenant with our World) and who have declared themselves to be Immigrant Justice Congregations. Further, we unite with a host of faith communities of all denominations across our region under the auspices of the Church Council of Greater Seattle (CCGS) who have pledged in various ways to support immigrants at risk of deportation. Go here to read the Board's Sanctuary Resolution.

Contact Susan Schulkin to find out how you can get involved. Here are examples of the range of volunteer activities for Sanctuary Action Team members:

  • Hands-on: Volunteers with expertise and availability may be able to help with a long list of tasks, such as running errands, shopping for food and supplies, translating, tutoring, providing mental health counseling, medical and dental care, legal advice, financial support, and offering companionship and moral support to immigrants hosted by sanctuary congregations.
  • Accompaniment: Volunteers will be needed to accompany undocumented individuals and their families to immigration check-ins and hearings. There is currently a high level of anxiety among non-citizens when they go for periodic ICE check-ins and having the support of compassionate lay people can make a difference. CCGS is preparing training materials and establishing a list of volunteers.
  • Solidarity training: Watch here and in eHappenings for information about Know Your Rights training and Bystander Intervention training.
  • Advocacy: Writing letters and emails, phoning, and attending rallies to support legislation or advocate on behalf of a particular individual may be solicited in partnership with other organizations. For more information on immigration issues and to keep updated on action steps and local opportunities for demonstrating solidarity, here are resources from four organizations we’re partnering with:


Upcoming Events:

Immigrant Rights: Rethinking the Community Narrative
Sunday, March 18, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Temple Beth Am Social Hall

How can we put a human face on Immigrant Justice? Come and learn more about what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.A. today, including the legal framework and process facing those who are classified as undocumented. Organized with help from the ACLU, our speaker at this forum will be immigration attorney Bob Gibbs, founding partner in the immigration law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw and a founding board member of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Highlighting our state and local policies, he will present an overview of U.S. immigration policy and procedures, to help us better understand what rights we have, whether U.S. citizens or not. We will share steps taken by Temple Beth Am as an Immigrant Justice Congregation and learn how we can support local residents vulnerable to deportation. 

African Asylum Seekers in Israel: A Conversation
Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Beth Am Sanctuary
The principle of welcoming the stranger is a core Jewish value, repeated 36 times in the Torah. Yet, this essential Jewish principle is being challenged in modern-day Israel, as the Israeli government seeks to deport over 38,000 African asylum seekers currently longing for freedom and safety in Israel. Join us on Wednesday, March 21 to learn more about this complicated and important human rights issue from someone who lived through it. Meet Ykealo Beyene, an Eritrean asylum seeker and one of the lucky few able obtain refugee status and find a home here in Seattle. Also speaking is Israeli Oded Oron, a PhD candidate at the University of Washington and activist focused on this issue who will explain how this crisis unfolded and what action you can take. 
The event is co-sponsored by Beth Am’s Interfaith and Intercultural Initiative (I3) and the Israel/ARZA committeeLearn more about this event.

Immigrant Justice Seder
Sunday, April 1
New Jewish Coalition for Immigrant Justice NW will hold a Passover Seder at Tacoma NWDC in support and solidarity for those inside and their families. For more information and details contact Diane Baer.


Volunteer Opportunities:

Besides bilingual English/Spanish volunteers, the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) is looking for on-call volunteers who can respond to Raid Response Hotline calls in the following languages: Russian, Vietnamese, Somali, Ukrainian, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Arabic, Punjabi, Cambodian, Chinese-Cantonese, Marshallese, Samoan, Amharic, Chinese-Mandarin, Japanese, Rumanian, French, Nepali, Mixteco, Lao, and Hindi. If you are fluent in one of those languages, please email gerhard@washingtonjustice.org. The WAISN Raid Response Hotline is a resource for helping community members report ICE activity in their communities and dispatch volunteers to verify and document ICE raids. The hotline also connects family members of detainees to services and dispenses Know Your Rights information.