18 rabbis arrested during NY protest over Trump travel ban

Religious leaders refuse orders to disperse after taking part in demonstration in front of Trump Tower in support of refugees

A group of rabbis protesting outside of the Trump International Hotel in New York City on Feb. 6, 2017. (Ben Sales via JTA)
A group of rabbis protesting outside of the Trump International Hotel in New York City on Feb. 6, 2017. (Ben Sales via JTA)

Eighteen rabbis were arrested at a protest of US President Donald Trump’s refugee ban in front of the Trump International Hotel in New York City Monday night.

The rabbis, who had gathered as part of a conference hosted by T’ruah, the rabbis’ human rights group, were arrested for obstructing traffic in front of the hotel.

After marching with a group of about 200 through Manhattan, the rabbis sat in front of the hotel and ignored repeated police warnings to disperse, intending to get arrested as a symbolic protest.

Protesters, many of them rabbis, came to the demonstration wearing prayer shawls, while others blew shofars to signal their opposition to last week’s ban on refugees and nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries, which was enacted on January 27 and temporarily stayed by a federal judge one week later.

The crowd, barricaded by police, chanted, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.” Protesters held signs reading, “My people were refugees too” and “another rabbi standing for justice.”

“We remember our history, and we remember that the borders of this country closed to us in 1924 with very catastrophic consequences during the Holocaust,” Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, told The New York Times. “We know that some of the language that’s being used now to stop Muslims from coming in is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming.”

She later sent a series of tweets from inside the police bus.

T’ruah is one of several liberal Jewish groups that has opposed several of the president’s policies both during the campaign and since the election. The group has come out against Trump’s policies on immigration, refugees and civil rights, and also opposed his appointment of Stephen Bannon as a senior adviser.

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