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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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The Soul of the Stranger

African refugees in Israel

Photo Credit: Deborah Sinai/Flash90

Our character as a Jewish nation depends not on our contempt and disdain for non-Jews living in our midst. On the contrary, it depends on our fulfillment of our own tradition, which calls on us to accord them respect, support, and compassion. It is a unique and tragic sign of our times that such basic lessons must be based on scriptural and Talmudic evidence rather than on common sense and human compassion.

We must rededicate ourselves to listen to the basic truth written in our Torah and our hearts. Human compassion, for all humans, and especially for disadvantaged groups, is a core component of our identity which we must embrace and cultivate. Rather than weakening our identity as Jews, it strengthens and affirms it.

About the Author: Rabbi Aharon Frazer lives in Alon Shvut, Israel, and is an active volunteer supporting Blessing's Day Care. http://www.facebook.com/BlessingsDayCare


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3 Responses to “The Soul of the Stranger”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You're right. And most of us agree with you with our hearts. But our minds tell us that it's not so simple. We are & want to remain a Jewish state. There's a limit to our resources, financial & geographical. We want Jewish values to predominate. We want our schools to be teaching Jewish stuff. At least 20 percent of our population is moslem — in some places much more. We're not trying to be a melting pot or a haven for those seeking a better life, although we'd like to be, if we could. We know what it's like to have nowhere to run. But we're not permitted to kill ourselves in order to save someone else. Not simple, this problem.

  2. Chayim Goldberg says:

    "and you shall love the stranger…"

  3. John DeLancy says:

    You, Israel, are Or L'Goyim. You are a light to the nations. Goyim like me and the South Sudanese and other Christians will come to you and mob you. 10 of us will grasp your Tallit and say, "we will go with you, because we have heard that Ha'Shem is with you." At that time, please teach us. We _WANT_ to learn the Torah. Please teach us. We are also poor and uneducated. All that you will get in return for teaching us is that we will know Torah… and Ha'Shem will bless you for teaching us the Torah. We love you, Ha'Shem is your Supply. You never _have_ to teach us. If you do teach us, you will be blessed.

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African refugees in Israel

From elected officials to people in the street, from the highly educated secular upper class to yeshiva students to the working poor, numerous Israelis seem to share a lexicon and intellectual framework which denigrates and dehumanizes Africans, belittles their suffering, and trivialized their plight.

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