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Montclair Sanctuary Alliance



Tisha B’Av vigil at the Elizabeth Detention Center housing hundreds of immigrants.

Love the stranger.  Deuteronomy 10:19


Q:         What is Sanctuary?

A:         The Sanctuary Movement began in the 1980s when U.S. faith leaders organized to protect asylum seekers fleeing violence in Latin America. Today Bnai Keshet, with partners Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair, First Congregational Church, Faith in NJ and other local faith leaders’ support, will be offering a family (or individual) at risk of deportation physical shelter on BK property. We call the effort the Montclair Sanctuary Alliance (MSA).

Q:         What will we offer a long-term guest seeking sanctuary?

A:         Safety, support, and time to seek a resolution. We are renovating an apartment; please donate if you can. MSA teams are moving ahead (facilities, legal, funds, publicity, rapid response, hosting). MSA held an interfaith gathering at BK, Rededicating Our Sanctuary to SANCTUARY, in December 2017. Efforts continue – volunteers are welcome!

Q:         What do our traditions say about protecting the vulnerable?

A:         Protecting the vulnerable is the moral core of our traditions. Our faith commands: “You too must love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Bible commands us once to love our neighbor, twice to love God, but to love or protect the stranger at least 36 times. It is about fairness and also a path to finding God.

Q:          Why the undocumented?

A:           Because of our ancestors. Many of our grandparents and great-grandparents faced a biased U.S. quota system that drastically limited immigration. Many hired smugglers, illegally crossed borders or paid bribes. They did it for survival and a better life for their children--us. Learn more from Rabbi Elliott’s sermon, Prepare me to be a Sanctuary

Q:         Does the law protect undocumented immigrants given sanctuary?

A:         No, they could still be arrested. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has avoided arrests on congregational property.

Q:         We are we offering sanctuary publicly, not privately?

A:         To change hearts and minds. Tightening borders lets us imagine the U.S. can wall off the suffering in other places. We hope that supporting and collaborating publicly with immigrant neighbors and friends will strengthen the fabric of our society and ultimately, help change federal policy.

Q:         How else will we help the undocumented?

A:         We are forming rapid response teams--bearing witness and offering support (though not obstructing) ICE raids, and will provide accompaniment training and send volunteers to accompany those at risk of deportation to ICE check-ins and court.


The national Jewish sanctuary movement: Mikdash 

Rabbi Elliott’s sermon, Prepare me to be a Sanctuary” 

WNYC News feature, “Synagogues Show Solidarity with Detained Immigrants on Holy Day".

For more information about MSA or to volunteer, please contact


Sun, January 21 2018 5 Sh'vat 5778