Statement on Refugees

June 16, 2015

TBR Statement on Refugees

On Passover we re-enact the story of the exodus from Egypt recalling that not only were we slaves in Egypt, we were also refugees from Egypt. For forty years we wandered. Though sustenance was given, for forty years we lacked the security of a home. Ultimately, sanctuary was provided.

In many other times in Jewish history, Jews escaping anti-Semitic persecution were not so fortunate, and sanctuary was not available, or was deliberately withheld.

Perhaps it is for this reason that so many Jews in Canada feel a strong connection to refugees – it is both a fresh trauma and an old wound. Whether it is because we see ourselves as having come out of Egypt; or because of our deep capacity for empathy; or because of the personal experiences of our parents, grandparents or friends; or simply because we heed the Torah’s commandment to protect the stranger – many Jews in Canada identify with refugees and wish to assist in their protection.

We commend the Canadian government for agreeing to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. However the past few years have seen significant changes to the ways in which Canada treats refugees.

We therefore call on the government of Canada to:

–           treat refugees with dignity, by restoring full access to health services

–           treat refugees fairly, by reviewing and improving the current refugee determination process

–           treat refugees with compassion, by intervening more aggressively to provide assistance to refugees from Syria and other crisis zones

–           treat refugees equally, by refusing to discriminate based on religious or national origin.