What is Jewish Activism (2/3)

Hi, I’m Izzy! I’m a third-year college student currently interning for Bend The Arc’s Southern California Chapter. I’ve interned with organizations that work to achieve social justice before, but none have impacted me the way that interning with Bend The Arc has. I’m going to be sharing a series of three blogs with you where I explore what it means to work to achieve social justice within a framework of Jewish grounding. Thanks for exploring with me! 


The Immigration Justice Committee led the first Bend The Arc action I attended. I walked up to the circle of like-minded people showing up for immigrant justice and was handed a sign which declared, "All Immigrants Welcome." We all came together outside of Representative Roybal Allard's office to demand that she will be committed to stopping the flow of money to President Trump's anti-immigration agenda. 

This action was a part of the national #DefundHate campaign, which is currently focusing on asking Congress to divest from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). We want less tax money to go to Trump's xenophobic agenda. With less money, these forces will be less able to intensely enforce of immigration policies and less able to fill the deathly immigration jails in the United States. Here are a few things I learned at the action: 

1. Jews have a personal connection to the issue of immigration

Historically, many Jews have felt what it's like to run from violence. My great grandmother is one of those Jews. She fled Russia at a young age to escape the brutality of the PogromsAs I hear the horrific stories of her early life, I come to understand how vital the open arms of the United States were to the safety of many of our ancestors.

Just like many of our ancestors were able to, immigrants of today should be able to stay with their families and prosper here in the United States. All immigrants should be shown love and respect. 

2. Practicing Jewish traditions can enhance our social justice work 

The action outside of the office took place a few days after we celebrated Rosh Hashanah. The action’s programming included many Rosh Hasanah rituals. 

Yizkor and Mourners Kaddish

🕯🕯These traditions helped us to remember the 17 people who died in ICE and CBP custody in the last year. Two of the people who died were two years old; seven were under the age of 18. Together, we read their names and said the Mourner's Kaddish in their honor. This tradition allowed us to acknowledge the violence in Trump's immigration agenda. 


📯🎶The blast of the shofar is used on Rosh Hashanah to awaken the souls of people and signify the coming of a new year. A Bend The Arc leader blew the shofar and made the impactful noises outside of the Representative's office. This tradition symbolically awakened her and her office to act urgently on behalf of immigrants. 

Apples and Honey

🍏🍯The action came to an end after Bend The Arc offered Representative Roybal Allard a basket filled with apples and honey to ring in the new year. By wishing the Representative a sweet new year, we encouraged her to act out of kindness, love, and respect, just as we did. 

Our Jewish traditions ground and inspire us to take action out of love and respect. Our shared personal histories of immigration inspire us to act for the immigrants who are being treated inhumanely.