Image: Two American hostages in Iran. Nov 4, 1979.

The “partial government shutdown” has now been going on for over a month. Federal workers are working without pay or not working at all – and will never be paid. People are losing their homes, dodging bill collectors, and having to worry about food for their kids.

All this, because the present administration takes hostages.

The Trump Administration decided to discourage asylum-seekers from applying to the U.S. at our southern border. To accomplish this, they have separated parents from children, in many cases not bothering to track where those children went after the separation. Their apologists say, “Well, don’t break the law” – but those children will be scarred forever and will probably hate the U.S.

All this, because the present administration takes hostages.

Not quite 40 years ago, our country was enraged and horrified when 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage and held for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981. There was a lot of talk then about how dishonorable this was as a tactic for international relations. There was a lot of talk then about the savagery of a government that would do such a thing. There was a lot of talk, and we’ve had a hostile relationship with the government of Iran ever since.

But now we have an administration that takes hostages: little children, people running from unimaginable trouble, and its own workers.

It’s time we stood up to this government that has no shame and no morals. I’m contemplating what an all-day-5-days-a-week picket of the federal building in Oakland would do to my body, and I want to cry at the thought, but I feel a moral imperative to take action.

Ideas, my readers? What shall we do? Watching TV and railing on Twitter isn’t enough. Arguing about Women’s Marches isn’t enough. Sending letters doesn’t seem to be doing the job.

I’ve had enough.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “NO. MORE. HOSTAGES.”

  1. You’re not being honest. I don’t like Trump, but he didn’t come up with the policy of separating children. Many of whom aren’t with their actual parents. We have enough problems in this country without lies added to them.

  2. While it is important to speak up against such policies, in the long run I think the most important thing to do would be to help people who are not registered to vote to get registered. This administration and many states seem to be going out of there way to make it harder for certain populations to vote. To ensure that this “president” doesn’t get re-elected or anyone else like him we have to make sure that in 2020 we get as many people to vote as possible and not just members of the NRA and Evangelical Churches.

    1. Perhaps if we didn’t spend so much energy on keeping up with people “breaking in” to America, we could look at providing asylum for some of the mothers and children living in fear and heart-wrenching poverty in the slums and ghettos of Chicago, Houston, L.A., Miami, New York….

    2. That’s all well and great… if you truly believe the popular vote, the so-called “people’s choice” even makes a difference. Look at the numbers. It clearly doesn’t.

  3. Rabbi, you make some interesting connections between the Iran & U.S. govts, re: hostage-taking.

    The urgency you feel to take immediate action does not seem to have reached critical mass proportions, though. And I’m guessing that only large-scale actions en masse by the affected federal workers will be effective @ the national level.

    For now, I’m continuing to contact my Rep. & Senators, to send online petitions, & to send my views to Letters to the Editor of the NYT, & WaPo.

    Finally, I’m now reading an insightful article that arrived in today’s The NY Review of Bks: “The Path of Greatest Resistance” by David Cole. In it, Cole reviews 2 books that discuss why networks & social movements do/do not “cause change”.

  4. I agree with picketing the Oakland Federal Building, and writing our Senators.

    I am tired of immigrants and asylum seekers being demonized.

    Why not let them in, set a court date for a hearing and use ankle bracelets to keep track of these asylum seekers? Why not work with their governments to address conditions leading to their flight?

    As for children being separated from parents with no one knowing where they are, that is ridiculous.

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