Letter to President Schlissel

Letter to President Schlissel

February 2, 2017

Dear President Schlissel,

On behalf of Hillel at the University of Michigan and Hillel International, the largest Jewish student organization in the world, we wish to express our appreciation and support for your quick response and leadership in the statements and actions you have outlined to protect students at the University of Michigan from the consequences of the Executive Order issued on Friday, January 27, 2017 regarding refugees and visa- and green card holders from certain countries in the Middle East.

Our Jewish history, values and texts teach us unequivocally to care for the “strangers” in our midst. Upon leaving Egypt, the ancient Israelites are told, “you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9) On 36 different occasions, our Torah commands us to remember the experience of being foreigners, strangers, and victims of oppression, and our people has been imbued with that spirit ever since.

Throughout our history, Jews have been minorities within the many cultures we have lived, and have often been the subject of restrictions on where we could live and study. We know if this order were aimed at Jewish students we would hope that you and all our fellow students would stand with us. As such, we unequivocally stand with all students, staff and faculty who find that this order will affect themselves or their families, in particular those in our Muslim community. And we stand in solidarity with the university community in upholding the values of freedoms of speech, press, and assembly that are core both to American life and the life of the academy.

We are ready to do whatever we can as a campus partner to assist you in your efforts to make our university a place of learning, growth, and opportunity for all. Several of our Hillel leaders have reached out to their Muslim counterparts to express their support, and others are working with the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program on a #weremember and #istandwithrefugees campaign. We hope this will bring some comfort and healing to our community.

Tilly Shames
Executive Director, Michigan Hillel

Eric Fingerhut
President & CEO, Hillel International

Bob Stone
Chair, Michigan Hillel Board of Trustees

Joshua Blum (’18)
Chair, Michigan Hillel Governing Board