Today I will host a Passover seder with my family.
We will gather together to perform rituals that remind us who we are as Jews and why that identity is important. But as important to me as the rituals we perform are the people who surround me: my family.
That’s why, as a Jew and a rabbi, I’m standing up for pro-family immigration policies. Many politicians have recently discussed shifting our immigration system to restrict even further the categories of family members Americans may sponsor to immigrate to the United States.
For decades, family sponsorship has been a lifeline for Jews fleeing pogroms and searching for opportunity. Our immigration policies should honor the tradition of bringing close-knit families together.
Contrary to what some who are hostile to immigrants say, only a few categories of family member are eligible to be sponsored to immigrate. Currently, if you are an American citizen and your closest family lives in another country, you may apply to sponsor your husband or wife, children, parents, or brothers and sisters to join you in the United States.
American citizens and their families applying for visas go through a long, arduous process that for some family members can take up to 24 years before they are able to reunite in the United States.
Reuniting families here in the United States strengthens our entire community. Family support helps people start businesses, improve their English and become successful Americans.
Our immigration system needs to be updated, but cutting back family visas throws out the baby with the bathwater.
The story we remember at our Passover seder is how our ancestors, a group of migrants, escaped slavery in Egypt. We eat unleavened matzah because we fled quickly; the bread didn’t have time to rise. Even in the fear and poverty that this night commemorates, we had two things: our family and our God.
God freed us from captivity, and our family was with us through all the journey.
Let’s make sure that Americans building their lives in our communities can be united with their families in the United States. This reflects our story as a people and helps America become the nation that we hope to be.
To those celebrating Passover or Easter, I wish you a season filled with joy, love and family harmony.
Rabbi Peter Berg is the senior rabbi of The Temple.