On Tuesday of this week, the day when the City Council meets, my clergy colleagues and I hosted an interfaith vigil to support our City Council’s decision to become a sanctuary city and to support the Olympia Charter of Compassion which we developed. Many powerful words were said, songs were sung and the feeling of solidarity was strong. These were the words I shared:
In the Jewish tradition, through our practice of reading our sacred scripture, the Torah, each week in order, we are currently reading the opening chapters of the book of Exodus, which tell that grand narrative of the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. It is a story we tell not only when we read it this time each year, but also on the festival of Passover. Indeed, the Exodus is invoked in each of our prayer services.
This story is so important, so fundamental to who we are as individuals and communities. It is a story of liberation from oppression, of transformation, and of the need to uproot oneself and seek safe haven elsewhere when conditions demand it.
We unfortunately live in a time in which the desire to drive out others still exists. But we also live in a time in which the willingness to be open to receive those who have been driven out still exists.
For Jews, this willingness to open up our hearts, hands and doors comes not only from our ancient sacred texts, but it comes from our recent history, when our forebears were stopped at the borders of this country, only to be turned back to the ovens of Europe. Whether it be crossing the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Whether it be crossing by foot, or by boat, or by airplane. We must be on the side of the refugee, the immigrant, the seeker of asylum.
We here in our city of Olympia affirm our willingness to provide sanctuary to those who seek it. And we here in our city of Olympia affirm our commitment to root all of our decisions in compassion. We reject any and all attempts to arbitrarily discriminate and we uphold the obligation to treat everyone with respect and dignity and to provide for their needs. We seek to create a welcoming and loving community for all.
We stand here for sanctuary and we stand here for compassion. This is the just and moral position.
Here is the article from The Olympian about the vigil.