Sunday’s protest was one of more than 50 similar Jewish demonstrations that were held across the country to mark Tisha b’Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning, in opposition to U.S. immigration policy. A range of progressive Jewish groups organized the protests, which also took place in several other major cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.
The protests are the latest in a series of direct actions by Jewish groups against the 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 the treatment of undocumented immigrants today across the country.
In New York City, more than 1,000 demonstrators crammed into a brick-and-mortar Amazon store to protest the tech giant’s contract with ICE, which uses Amazon technology. The protesters held a large sign that read “Never again means never again” and, with most of the protesters sitting on the floor of the store, read accounts of people detained in immigration facilities.
The protesters were eager to draw a connection between their cause and Tisha b’Av, which commemorates a range of Jewish historical tragedies, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. Some protesters wore prayer shawls and tefillin.
They recited Kaddish, the traditional mourner’s prayer, sang a melody traditionally used in Tisha b’Av liturgy and read from the Book of Lamentations, which is traditionally read on Tisha b’Av. Some held up a large banner with a Hebrew quotation from the book, which translates to “For these things do I weep. My eyes flow with tears: Far from me is any comforter who might revive my spirit; my children are forlorn, for the foe has prevailed.”
The groups organizing the series of protests across the country include T’ruah, the liberal rabbinic human rights group, the refugee aid group HIAS, the National Council of Jewish Women and the activist group Bend the Arc.