Recently I gave a speech on the House floor about the Tzedek Association, a Jewish national organization, and their excellent work on getting refugees out of Afghanistan. The reaction the address received inspired me to write this op-ed. Americans from all over the country and around the world have been deeply moved by the efforts of Tzedek’s president, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, to help those in Afghanistan who are at risk of being murdered by the Taliban. The Rabbi has also helped Christians and Muslims. His desire to help Muslims, in particular, has inspired me and so many others.
Rabbi Margaretten is acting as a modern-day Oskar Schindler. He has publicly said that his actions are inspired by the righteous gentiles who helped Jewish people during the Holocaust. We all must learn from and replicate his actions and the actions of the Tzedek Association. Wouldn’t America be a better place if we all helped each other simply because it’s the right thing to do? Think of how much nicer our homes, communities, country, and the world would be if we all lived a little more like Rabbi Margaretten.
Here’s an excerpt of my speech I gave on the sacred floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:
Our country has made it its foundation and even printed it on our currency: e Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, we are one.” Sadly, this fundamental value is rarely seen in today’s day and age. But I am proud because I have come across an American faith-based organization that should serve as an example to all of us to go back to this principle of e Pluribus Unum. I am referring to the Tzedek Association. Recently, though they are of a completely different faith, and though this is really outside the purview of what they usually do, Tzedek has dedicated itself to saving people from all walks of life from Afghanistan.
The Tzedek Association is a Jewish national not-for-profit organization that advocates for criminal justice reform, religious liberty and fights for humanitarian cases throughout the globe. Tzedek championed the First Step Act as well as other common-sense criminal justice reforms.
After the Taliban took over Kabul, it came to Tzedek’s attention that the last remaining Jew of Afghanistan was in danger of being killed. They were requested to utilize their political connections to save his life. One thing led to another, and this helped Tzedek coordinate the escape of dozens of Afghans.
Let me stress the novelty of this: an Orthodox Jewish organization, led by Orthodox rabbis, is working day and night to save the lives of Muslims, Christians, and people of other faiths – primarily women and children – because they live by the value of out of many, we are one.
Tzedek has thus far saved the lives of female soccer players, who are at risk of being killed by the Taliban simply because they have chosen to play this global sport. They have also rescued female judges, orphans, interpreters, and other individuals who helped the United States and the U.K. in the war on terror. They recently led an effort to save two pregnant women who were high-risk targets, one of whom gave birth to a healthy baby girl just three days after being rescued. And yes, they also saved the last remaining Afghanistan Jew, Zebulun Simantov. But along with him, left 30 religious minorities – 90% women and children — who were at risk of persecution simply because of their faith.
And it is a lesson to us in Washington and to all of us throughout the world. We must come together more often for the greater good. Despite our differences, we must unite as creations of Almighty God and do what we can, together, to make this world a better place.
• Don Bacon is the U.S. Representative for Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district.
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