This blog is the fourth in a series from Rabbis Organizing Rabbis connecting the Omer to Immigration Reform. This Shavuot, we recommit ourselves to working with the modern-day strangers among us. This Shavuot, we stand with Ruth. Rabbis Organizing Rabbis is a joint project of the CCAR’s Peace & Justice Committee, the URJ’s Just Congregations, and the Religious Action Center. Learn more and join the mailing list.
I never intended to become an immigrant to this country. Like much of life, it just happened. I took a job, and then another, and then went to graduate school. Before I knew it, I had lived in this country for fifteen years. America had gradually become my home. It is where my best friends lived, where I found my calling as a rabbi, where I had my first congregation, where I fell in love with the man who would become my husband, where I gave birth to my first child. Yet I was no closer to being a permanent resident than the day I had moved here fifteen years ago. And then my application for permanent residency was denied. Like Ruth, I was at risk of losing my home, of everything I knew, of losing that sense of rootedness and stability I had taken for granted.
Like Ruth, I was lucky. My story eventually has a good ending. I reapplied and was accepted, thanks to my American husband, (and no, his name is not Boaz) and am now the proud owner of a green card, looking forward to that day when I will be able to become an American citizen. The ground on which I stand feels strong.
But for millions of immigrants to this country, the millions of Ruths that exist out there, there is not yet a happy ending. Millions of immigrants live here, in the shadows, struggling to remain a part of the fabric of our country, fearful of driving down the street, unable to pay for college, without the protection of family or an ID. Thousands of parents are being deported every day, taken from their children, leaving their kids parentless, entering foster systems, taking on jobs, failing in school.
For these millions of souls, there is not yet a happy ending. The key word in that sentence is yet. Their story and fight is not over. This is the week of Netzach in the counting of the Omer. Netzach stands for endurance and fortitude, and ultimately, victory. It defines an energy that will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. It is the readiness to go all the way, to fight for what you believe. It stands for the ability to endure in the face of challenges and hardship and believe that things are possible.
Being an immigrant requires Netzach. Being an ally in the fight for immigration reform requires Netzach. With legislation stalled in the House, with deportations at an all time high, we all need a little Netzach.
This Shavuot, I encourage you to stand up and say: I stand with Ruth. I stand with the millions of Ruths in this country who have the Netzach to see this fight through to the end, because their lives depend on it.
Post this message on your Facebook timeline and share why YOU stand with Ruth.
Next week’s We Stand With Ruth Omer message will include a liturgy and teaching session you can use for Shavuot. Will you show us your support by publically pledging to use one or both of these resources? Pledge to stand with Ruth this Shavuot here!