By Josefin Dolsten | 12 February 2017
FORWARD — Over 100 years ago, Barnett Levine was greeted by the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty as he arrived in the United States, having fled anti-Semitism and pogroms in his native Poland. Today his grandson saw those very same sights when he joined about 700 others in New York’s Battery Park at a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s executive order banning all refugees from the country for 120 days.
“I am the grandchild of four immigrants who came here when the gates of the United States were wide open and they made a life here. … I think that it is the duty of the Jewish community to pay this forward to other immigrants who are trying to come to the United States,” Harold Levine, a 60-year-old marketing consultant, told JTA.
The rally was organized by HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, part of an initiative by the immigrant resettlement group called the “National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees,” protesting Trump’s executive order.
The president issued the order last month, banning refugees from the country for 120 days and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruling upheld a stay on the ban, a move praised by Jewish groups, including HIAS.
Thousands attended rallies on Sunday as part of the HIAS initiative, including in Boston, Washington D.C, and other major cities, a representative for the group told JTA.
Mark Hetfield, CEO of HIAS, said the rallies, which were co-sponsored by over 20 groups — including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish World Service, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly — were a rare moment of joining together in support of refugees. […]