(JTA) — Some 180 alumni and staff of a New Jersey yeshiva high school implored graduate Jared Kushner to use his influence with President Donald Trump, his father-in-law, to ease the path for refugees coming to the United States.
An open letter from the Frisch School, a co-educational school in Paramus, expressed “alarm” at Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations. Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president, is a 1999 graduate of Frisch.
The letter called it a “rare opportunity” to have a member of the Frisch School community play “such a critical role in guiding the future of our country.”
“As fellow graduates, students, parents and educators of the Frisch School and proud members of the American Jewish community, we are alarmed by the President’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim majority nations. Your family and all of ours know too well what can happen when America shuts its doors to those most in need,” read the letter, which was made public over the weekend.
The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The courts, responding to challenges, have placed a temporary stay on the executive order based on constitutional grounds.
“Like you, many of us are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who escaped to this country when the lands of their birth promised almost certain death; like those of your grandparents, many of their parents, siblings and extended families did not make it to our shores and perished in the Holocaust. The memory of the St. Louis rings fresh in our minds as we see refugees from some of the most war-torn countries on this planet barred from entering our country,” the letter continued.
The letter references the Torah calling on Jews “to love and welcome the stranger, for we too were once strangers in Egypt.”
“We implore you, as a Jew and as a graduate of an institution that instilled you with Jewish values, to exercise the influence and access you have to annals of power to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as millions of our co-religionists. We ask you to ensure they gain the second chance our grandparents received to succeed and thrive in America,” it concluded.
A revised version of the order could be released this week, The Associated Press reported. According to AP, the new version would focus on the same seven countries, but would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States.
Trump says the refugee ban, meant to be temporary, is necessary to put into place “extreme vetting” procedures to prevent terrorists from entering the country.