Refugees: Fear, Not Prejudice
The Refugee Crisis
In his article “Moral Jewish Geography” in the December 2015/January 2016 issue, Jeffrey K. Salkin writes that “American Jews should lead the way in helping our communities think deeply about how to best aid the refugees who have wound up in our midst.” It is possible that many of us have assessed the threat from Syrian refugees and have found it to be very grave.
The United States in the last 150 years has accepted immigrants from lands around the world encompassing a wide variety of ethnic groups and religions, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. These immigrants were greeted with varying degrees of acceptance—and even hostility—but never in fear. That is what makes the Syrian issue different; it is not religious prejudice, but fear.
Previously, newcomers arrived here ready to work, assimilate into American culture and aspire to attain the American dream. But now, in this case, many immigrants do not appear to want to assimilate and actually want to impose their own culture and laws on their host nations.
We certainly recognize that not all Muslims are terrorists, but even a small percentage of over a billion Muslims is still a very large number.
Highland Park, N.J.
Salkin makes a strong case for Jewish responsibility to help the stranger. However, he discusses only a very small portion of those affected by today’s refugee crisis. There are currently some 66 million people who have been displaced by the forces of radical Islamism. The only answer is the defeat of the Islamists. We will need to pressure Muslim allies to cease incitement against Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims, and encourage Muslim states to better integrate refugees into their societies. Aid for these refugees’ rehabilitation should be dependent on host countries allowing refugees to work and giving them a path to citizenship.
Toby F. Block
More on Pittsburgh
I felt a bit homesick yet proud of my hometown, Pittsburgh, after reading Helen Lippman’s thorough exploration of the city in the October/November Jewish Traveler. I was especially proud to see the photo of the Israel Heritage Room, designed by my architect cousin Martin Chetlin, at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. When volunteering in Israel, I made a point of visiting the ruins at Capernaum to see the first-century synagogue that served as the inspiration for this seminar room. Thank you for showing Pittsburgh as one of the most livable cities in the country, especially for Jews.
Natalie Krauss Bivas
Palo Alto, Calif.
Hadassah Magazine correctly portrayed Jewish Pittsburgh as a dynamic community, but with one glaring omission. Chabad plays a major role in the life of Jewish Pittsburgh. Every facet of our community is touched and enhanced by Chabad.