Parashat Masei

Refugee Awareness

Lessons from the biblical cities of refuge.

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As Jews, the bitter experience of exile from one's homeland should be something to which we are acutely sensitive. For 2000 years we have suffered through the challenge of being strangers in lands not our own. As is often noted, the Torah has more to say about the proper treatment of strangers than it does with any other set of laws, including worshipping God or observing festivals.

At a moment in history when over 30 million human beings are displaced from their homes, it is time that we rededicate ourselves to this central message of our tradition.

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Rabbi Jacob E. Fine

Jacob Elisha Fine is rabbi and assistant director of Hillel at the University of Washington in Seattle.