Rabbis back refugees

Kehillat Masada Synagogue’s Rabbi Gad Krebs.

TWELVE Sydney rabbis have joined their interstate counterparts in calling on the federal government not to deport 267 asylum seekers to Nauru.

In a statement issued this week, the rabbis urged the government to observe its obligations under international refugee and human rights law, and to act with compassion for all people being held in offshore detention.

“Judaism commands us to recognise the vulnerability of strangers among us and to treat them with respect and dignity, because our people have often been strangers in a strange land, and have stood where they now stand,” the statement read.

“We call on our government to … ensure the safety, security, and physical and mental well-being of every person who is fleeing from persecution and war … to shorten the time it takes properly to assess refugee claims, and to act as a matter of utmost urgency to ensure that no-one is detained under conditions that … are detrimental to physical safety and mental health.”

Kehillat Masada’s Rabbi Gad Krebs, who is a signatory, told The AJN that as a leader in the Jewish community he felt it was important that “we have to look to other people and various areas of plight and that we shouldn’t just turn our backs on them”.

“Our experiences from the past should teach us and motivate us towards compassion for others rather than purely self-preservation,” he said.

He added that it was important that both Orthodox and Progressive rabbis signed the statement.

“When it comes to areas of theology we may disagree, but when it comes to areas of social justice and social welfare, we are all on the same page,” he said.

Rabbi Krebs said he is planning to join other members of the Jewish community in attending protest rallies on Sunday, March 20.

Other rabbis who signed the statement include the Jewish Learning Centre’s Rabbi David Blackman, The Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Benjamin Elton, Ohr Chadash’s Rabbi Danny Eisenberg, Emanuel Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio and Rabbi Orna Triguboff, Moriah College’s Rabbi Benji Levy, North Shore Synagogue’s Rabbi Paul Lewin, North Shore Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Gary Robuck and Rabbi Nicole Roberts, and Mizrachi Synagogue’s Rabbi Shua Solomon.

GARETH NARUNSKY