Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leonia Interfaith Sanctuary City Resolution

At our February board meeting, Rabbi Schwartz shared with the trustees and officers of Adas Emuno that he had worked together with the interfaith clergy of Leonia to draft a resolution to present to the mayor and council a resolution to declare Leonia a sanctuary city. This comes in response to the policies and initiatives of the Trump administration (and other towns in Bergen County have been considering similar declarations). Rabbi Schwartz explained that all of the clergy were asking their congregations to sign onto this resolution as well. After much discussion and some disagreement, the board voted to support Rabbi Schwartz in this effort.

Although it appears unlikely that the resolution will be accepted by Leonia's leadership, we think it important to share the text for the record, as a statement of moral and ethical principle. What follows is the most recent version of the resolution:


WHEREAS, the clergy and congregations of the Leonia Faith Community listed herein cherish the ethnic, racial, and religious diversity of our community; and

WHEREAS, we affirm a common heritage of concern for the “stranger”, as repeatedly evinced in our shared Scripture: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev.19:34); and

WHEREAS, that common Scripture also establishes “cities of refuge” as safe havens for those fleeing vengeance and seeking justice: “Designate the cities of refuge –about which I commanded you through Moses” (Joshua 20:2); and

WHEREAS, communities throughout our State and our country have passed Fair and Welcoming resolutions, ordinances, and orders upholding equal, respectful, and dignified treatment of all people regardless of their immigration status; and

WHEREAS, while we affirm the rule of law and the responsibility of our governing officials and police to uphold the law, we express concern that certain practices and policies may be depriving some immigrant families of due process; and

WHEREAS, we also note that certain recent executive orders and policies may be unlawfully and unwisely preventing refugees from entering our communities and country; and

WHEREAS, our governing religious denominational leaders have vociferously spoken out against such orders and policies, and some of these have been stayed in federal court:


1. That we urge the Borough of Leonia to declare itself a “sanctuary city” that will ensure justice for all its residents by ensuring they receive equal rights and privileges regardless of immigration status.

2. That the Borough of Leonia in such a declaration refrain from the voluntary sharing of resources, municipal employees, and police for the purposes of investigation of immigrant legal status, unless required by law.

3. That the churches and synagogues of Leonia declare themselves as communities of welcome and support for immigrant families regardless of documentation status.

4. That the churches and synagogues of Leonia take it upon ourselves to remain informed and vigilant about immigration issues, and protest unjust and unwise enactments that exist or may arise.

5. That a Leonia Sanctuary City Sabbath be designated in which our houses of worship and civic organizations join in celebrating our commitment to justice, equality and inclusion.

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