While I was at home catching up on my newspaper piles, an article about the tolerance we need toward the new immigrants who are seeking asylum in our midst gave me hope. After all, we’ve all come from immigrants at one time or another.
My mother’s family came to this country for opportunity as the Cossacks pillaged their village in Kiev, killing as many Jews as they could find. Through Acts of Kindness, my mom was carried on her brother’s back and hidden by people across the continent en route to America.
In America, my mom’s family worked day and night as furriers until my grandfather was able to start his own business.
Fast forward to today, and the tide of “huddled masses” have come to our shores again, seeking better lives, new homes and jobs for them and their families, just as my mother’s family did over century ago.
Ironically, we see our country is in desperate need of workers. There are “Help Wanted” signs on nearly every street and storefront I pass. One of my restaurateur friends admitted he’d love to be open seven days a week, but can’t because he doesn’t have the staff he needs to do so.
These new asylum seekers who have been vetted at the border are eager to work, having come to our country seeking a better life for their families.
After all, it was the immigrants who made our country great. They laid the tracks to create the railroads from one coast to the other, connecting our country. It was the immigrants who built New York. It was the immigrants who made enormous breakthroughs in technology, including — for better or worse — the atomic bomb.
I love the fact that churches, synagogues and houses of worship are opening their arms and welcoming the asylum seekers with help and food.
I think back to the Holocaust days, when a ship loaded to the rafters with immigrants from Europe who were desperately seeking asylum in Israel was forced to turn back. Sadly, even Roosevelt and Churchill turned people away. How inhumane it was to send people to their deaths when we could’ve done something to help.
We are a great people and we have the resources to help people like my mom, who was only 2 years old when she arrived in America.
I’m so proud of NYC Mayor Eric Adams for taking the terribly difficult situation of people arriving on buses and being dumped in our city and humanely finding ways to help them so they can begin their lives anew.
Everyone should be calling our elected officials in Washington to tell them we want people to get work visas now. That’s a big part of the problem holding up the new immigrants from getting jobs. We will be judged by how we help the weakest among us.
With the Jewish New Year approaching, we all sit and pray for a good new year, to forgive our sins and to be written into the book of life. God is good and man was created in God’s image to be good, too.
Ironically, our towns do better when there are people working. More taxes are paid and more people spend, which helps to keep our schools great, our roads smooth and pay our first responders who keep us safe.
The asylum seekers want to work, save their children and give them a better life, just as my grandfather from Kiev did. Let us all show our humanity.
I get it, about fearing the unknown. I remember when I opened the first group home for children in New York, coming out of Willowbrook, the neighbors feared their arrival. I had gotten death threats to stop these children from moving on their block.
Thankfully, we won a lawsuit permitting group homes in residential neighborhoods and today, the children who came from Willowbrook with only a plastic bag containing all their worldly goods are flourishing. Neighbors have become friends with the people who live in the aptly named Geraldo Rivera Group Home.
There was nothing to fear, but fear itself and time has shown that there never was anything to fear. Change is not easy, but the world changes every day we’re alive, from the magnificent newborns, to wonderful weddings and the celebrations of birthdays.
We have so much to be grateful for. I’m so grateful to have recovered from COVID and to have kind friends who dropped food at my doorstep. I see Acts of Kindness like that all around me.
Acts of Kindness can help the people seeking asylum who are escaping the horrors of their countries. Please write to me what your community is doing to ease the path of the people coming to us for asylum. Those are Acts of Kindness that should be heard!
The Vatican this past week “beatified” a Polish family who were murdered by the Nazis for their “gesture of hospitality and care of mercy” for harboring Jews during the war. They paid the ultimate price, but set an example that Pope Francis said “represented a ray of light in the darkness.”
Are you a ray of light?
Every month, our 91 media outlets publish Acts of Kindness of people in the community that help others. That’s what makes us the greatest people on earth!
And to all celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I wish you a sweet new year!