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Tucsonans join Tisha b’Av vigils protesting migrant deaths

Allison Stuewe reads while Marc Goodman blows the shofar and Deborah Mayaan demonstrates movement to release grief during a Jewish Voice for Peace Tisha b’Av vigil at Tucson’s Historic Y on Aug. 10. (Brooke Hotez)

More than 50 Jewish demonstrations were held across the country last weekend in opposition to U.S. immigration policy and to mark Tisha b’Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning. The call to action came from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and other organizations, including the refugee aid group HIAS, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Bend the Arc.

While most nationwide events were peaceful, 40 Jews were arrested at a New York City protest against Amazon’s work with Immigrations and Customs

Tucson’s Jewish Voice for Peace chapter held its event Saturday night, Aug. 10, at the Historic Y, focusing on those who have died in detention, “and other deaths from current oppression,” says Deborah Mayaan, a leader of the local group. The 20 people gathered also tore cloth as a traditional Jewish expression of grief and wrote the names of children who died in migrant detention.

The protests are the latest in a series of direct actions by Jewish groups against immigrant detention centers in the United States. The protests, in many cases organized by a new group called Never Again Action, draw explicit links between the Holocaust and treatment of undocumented immigrants today across the country. Some protesters were eager to draw connections between the cause and Tisha b’Av, commemorating a range of Jewish historical tragedies, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago.

AJP Executive Editor Phyllis Braun contributed to this report.