July 12, 2018
I have been away from my children, on and off, for about two weeks. A quirk of our summer schedules, they’ve been at home in New Jersey, attending the performing arts day camp at the JCC, while I’ve been in Cleveland with my parents for a week and now in Maryland at a retreat with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. I’ve kept in touch while I was gone by text and phone call. And I was briefly home in between my two trips with many in-person hugs and smiles.
So I can only imagine the joy and relief of the parents of the Thai boys trapped for the past two weeks in that cave, now all safely rescued. My separation was voluntary, secure in the knowledge that my children were safe. The Thai parents’ separation was accidental, and it was tinged with the grave worry of life and death. Thank God for their children’s safe return and the joyfulness of their reunion.
In contrast, I cannot even imagine the despair and anguish of those parents still apart from their children held by the United States government. Their separation was neither voluntary nor accidental. And it is still tinged with the great worry of their wellbeing. Our country is rightfully in search of an effective immigration policy that does the vital work of safeguarding our borders. But such a policy must be shaped by our ideals and our values and informed by a sense of justice and a sense of mercy at the same time. Whatever form that policy may take, surely the forced separation of families does not embody our ideals, our values, justice, or mercy, and should not be part of it.
My separation from my children will end when I return to New Jersey on Friday. The Thai parents are being reunited with their children, their ordeal concluded. But despite recent steps, let us not think that all of this summer’s children are yet home with their families. There is still much to be done to make that happen. To learn more about Reform Judaism’s actions to end family separation, click here or contact me directly. And let us at least pray that all parents and children will be together again soon.