Jewish Leaders Join Fast for Families on National Mall

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, joined faith, labor, and community leaders at the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall December 5, for a Chanukah ceremony during his day-long fast to heighten pressure on House leadership for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.   In fasting for immigration reform, Rabbi Gutow joined SEIU’s Eliseo Medina, DREAMer and Mi Familia Vota’s Cristian Avila, NAKASEC’s Dae Joong Yoon, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Rabbi David Saperstein, and others. Their efforts have captured international attention and inspired thousands to fast for immigration reform across the country. Recently, the tent has been visited by President and First Lady Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, chief of staff Denis McDonough, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett.   “When families are forcibly separated by immigration laws that fail to meet our economic and security needs, something is clearly broken. And our morality suffers,” said Gutow. “We have tried political remedies, but with the Senate’s bipartisan solution stalled in the House, we are brought to fasting and prayer. If our voices cannot be heard, then perhaps our actions will be.”   Two Jewish Members of Congress joined Gutow and Kaufman in lighting the menorah in the tent—Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9).  The Chanukah celebration and immigrant solidarity event in the “Fast for Families” tent was sponsored by national and local members of the “We Were Strangers, Too: Jewish Campaign for Immigration Reform”—American Jewish Committee, HIAS, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Jewish Community Action, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), the National Council of Jewish Women, Rabbinical Assembly, Union for Reform Judaism, and Uri L’Tzedek.