Migration

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Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my cry; do not disregard my tears; for like all my forebears I am an alien, resident with You. [JPS translation]

יג) שִׁמְעָה תְפִלָּתִי יְקֹוָק וְשַׁוְעָתִי הַאֲזִינָה אֶל דִּמְעָתִי אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ כִּי גֵר אָנֹכִי עִמָּךְ תּוֹשָׁב כְּכָל אֲבוֹתָי

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God of retribution, LORD, God of retribution, appear! Rise up, judge of the earth, give the arrogant their deserts! How long shall the wicked, O LORD, how long shall the wicked exult, shall they utter insolent speech, shall all evildoers vaunt themselves? They crush Your people, O LORD, they afflict Your very own; they kill the widow and the stranger; they murder the widow, thinking, "The LORD does not see it, the God of Jacob does not pay heed."
[JPS translation]

אֵל נְקָמוֹת ה' אֵל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיעַ: הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל גֵּאִים: עַד מָתַי רְשָׁעִים ה' עַד מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יַעֲלֹזוּ: יַבִּיעוּ יְדַבְּרוּ עָתָק יִתְאַמְּרוּ כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן: עַמְּךָ ה' יְדַכְּאוּ וְנַחֲלָתְךָ יְעַנּוּ: אַלְמָנָה וְגֵר יַהֲרֹגוּ וִיתוֹמִים יְרַצֵּחוּ: וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא יִרְאֶה יָּהּ וְלֹא יָבִין אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב:

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And Naomi said: 'Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say: I have hope, should I even have an husband to-night, and also bear sons; would you tarry for them till they were grown? would you shut yourselves off for them and have no husbands?

וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לָמָּה תֵלַכְנָה עִמִּי הַעוֹד לִי בָנִים בְּמֵעַי וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לַאֲנָשִׁים שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לֵכְןָ כִּי זָקַנְתִּי מִהְיוֹת לְאִישׁ כִּי אָמַרְתִּי יֶשׁ לִי תִקְוָה גַּם הָיִיתִי הַלַּיְלָה לְאִישׁ וְגַם יָלַדְתִּי בָנִים: הֲלָהֵן תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה עַד אֲשֶׁר יִגְדָּלוּ הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת לְאִישׁ אַל בְּנֹתַי כִּי מַר לִי מְאֹד מִכֶּם כִּי יָצְאָה בִי יַד יְקֹוָק: וַתִּשֶּׂנָה קוֹלָן וַתִּבְכֶּינָה עוֹד וַתִּשַּׁק עָרְפָּה לַחֲמוֹתָהּ וְרוּת דָּבְקָה בָּהּ: וַתֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה שָׁבָה יְבִמְתֵּךְ אֶל עַמָּהּ וְאֶל אֱלֹהֶיהָ שׁוּבִי אַחֲרֵי יְב

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Naomi, her [Ruth's] mother-in-law, said to her, “Daughter, I must seek a home for you, where you may be happy.” [JPS translation]

וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ נָעֳמִי חֲמוֹתָהּ בִּתִּי הֲלֹא אֲבַקֶּשׁ לָךְ מָנוֹחַ אֲשֶׁר יִיטַב לָךְ

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Immigration was a difficult time in my family's history and there wasn't much room for pride. It feels vulnerable to write about the sacrifices one's family has made even during immigration. My grandmother, who was a well-regarded high school teacher in Belarus, found work sewing in a factory. My grandfather, a highly educated man and a mining engineer worked as (though it's tempting to say "became") a hotel janitor. My aunt, a highly trained music teacher, cleaned houses. My father, a computer programmer, worked at house construction sites briefly.

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By the Middle Ages, community responsibility encompassed every aspect of life. The Jewish community regulated market prices so that the poor could purchase food and other basic commodities at cost. Wayfarers were issued tickets, good for meals and lodging at homes of members of the community, who took turns in offering hospitality. Both these practices anticipated "meal tickets" and modern food stamp plans. Some Jewish communities even established "rent control," directing that the poor be given housing at rates they could afford.

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“Israel has a unique opportunity in that it has a choice between workers from different cultures and workers of a similar culture who need employment close at hand. We need to weigh that choice, its costs, its benefits, and how the benefits can be gained while minimizing the costs. That is part of a considered approach to globalization, an approach that Israel needs to cultivate in many fields, neither rushing headlong and unthinkingly into global homogenization nor isolating ourselves from it. The issue of foreign workers is already upon us.

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The ger. . . is a resident alien; he has uprooted himself (or has been uprooted) from his homeland and has taken permanent residence in the land of Israel...Having severed his ties with his original home, he has no family to turn to for support. Thus deprived of both land and family, he was generally poor, listed together with the Levite, the fatherless, and the widow among the wards of society (Deut. 26:12), and exposed to exploitation and oppression. (Ezek.22:7)...

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In Hebrew, the word for immigration (hagirah) comes from the same root as the word ger, a word that can mean stranger, foreigner, or other. The word is used frequently in the Torah, most often in mandates to treat strangers living in our midst with respect and decency since we ourselves were once strangers in the Land of Egypt. Indeed, throughout history, the Jewish people have so often been in the position of the stranger, and much of Jewish history can be characterized as a history of constant migration, forced and voluntary relocation, and resettlement.

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The complex interplay of gender, social class, and religio-ethnic culture shaped the ways in which Jewish women participated in the economic, cultural, religious, and political life of the immigrant Jewish community and American society. Even as Jewish women shared a common heritage, living space, some institutions, values, and aspirations with their husbands and brothers, they also created a female culture and constructed a community different from the organized community of Jewish men.

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