Jews protest US immigration policy with Tisha B’Av demonstrations
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Jews protest US immigration policy with Tisha B’Av demonstrations

Dozens said arrested in New York as rallies held across the United States

A demonstrator speaks at a Jewish protest against Amazon at one of the company’s brick-and-mortar stores in New York City, Aug. 11, 2019. The protest was held on Tisha B’Av, a traditional Jewish day of mourning. Behind the speaker is a banner with a Hebrew quotation from the Book of Lamentations. (Screenshot from Facebook video via JTA)
A demonstrator speaks at a Jewish protest against Amazon at one of the company’s brick-and-mortar stores in New York City, Aug. 11, 2019. The protest was held on Tisha B’Av, a traditional Jewish day of mourning. Behind the speaker is a banner with a Hebrew quotation from the Book of Lamentations. (Screenshot from Facebook video via JTA)

Jewish demonstrators took to the streets across the United States on Sunday in a series of coordinated protests against American immigration policy under President Donald Trump.

The protests, which called for an end to the detention of migrants and asylum seekers and the separation of families at the Mexico border, took place on Tisha B’Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem.

“Kids in cages. Communities under threat of deportation. Refugees turned away. Muslims banned. Senseless hatred carried out by government agencies. Humanitarian crises manufactured. People dehumanized. Racism and xenophobia behind it all,” T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights said in a statement on its website calling for “vigils and protests outside Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) office nationwide.”

“On Tisha B’Av, the Jewish people lament the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the slaughter of thousands of innocents. Last year we commemorated the torment of innocent immigrants of refugees. Tragically, we have even more reasons to lament today,” the group said.

T’ruah worked in conjunction with Bend the Arc, J Street, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the National Council of Jewish Women, Torah Trumps Hate and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to mobilize thousands across the country.

In New York, dozens were arrested outside an Amazon store as they protested Amazon Web Service’s ties with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Gizmodo reported. One participant estimated that some 250 Jews were arrested nationwide.

“We are praying with our feet, sitting in at @amazon in midtown reading Eicha and words from detained immigrant families and calling on Amazon to stop enabling ICE’s cruelty,” tweeted participant Naomi Dann, referring to the Book of Lamentations, which is traditionally read on Tisha B’Av.

According to protesters, who live-tweeted the demonstrations with the hashtag #JewsAgainstICE, around 40 people were arrested in New York and will face court dates on Rosh Hashanah.

Being a Jewish feminist meant “commemorating one of the darkest days on the Jewish calendar by calling on the Trump administration to end the inhumane policies targeting immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers,” Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, wrote on Facebook. “It meant reflecting on tragedies throughout Jewish history and recognizing that our community now has a responsibility to welcome the stranger.”

Events were held across the country, including in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Boca Raton, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Boston, Massachusetts.

Washington DC’s Lafayette Square hosted hundreds of Jewish protesters chanting “close the camps,” The Washington Post reported.

This is the second year that American Jews have rallied for immigrants on Tisha B’Av. The protests are not limited to Tisha B’Av, however; a new movement called Never Again Action has begun holding regular events across the country.

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