The Shmooze

North Carolina Rabbi Welcomes Immigrants

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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A rabbi in North Carolina is letting people know — in a big way — about the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.

Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh is a member of a Uniting N.C., an interfaith coalition that has put up billboards in support of immigrants.

“Once they’re here, the question for me is not about whether they’re legal, documented, undocumented or illegal. That question is complicated and has its own conversation,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal. “The issue is when they’re here, do we welcome them with the highest values that America and my Torah teaches us in terms of welcome and love of the stranger, that every person is made in God’s image.”

Solomon is joined in the effort by Rev. Diane Faires of St. Paul’s Christian Church and Fiaz Fareez of the Islamic Association of Raleigh. Uniting N.C.’s billboards, which are going up in Raleigh, Durham, Mebane, Charlotte, Asheville and Goldsboro, say “Community: We’ll Get There Together” and “Immigrants Make Us Stronger” and show images of smiling people of different ethnic groups.

Opposition is coming from groups like N.C. Listen, which opposes illegal immigration. Its position is that such billboards are a waste. “I don’t see any widespread support for bashing legal immigrants, so what’s the need for the billboards?” its director, Ron Woodard, said. He did not make any direct reference to the undocumented immigrants — the other kind of “stranger who dwells among you,” about which Solomon is equally concerned.


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