Letter from Melanie Flaxer: I was one of the 44 #JewsAgainstICE arrested at Amazon yesterday

Dear Friends,

Two years ago, white nationalists in Charlottesville chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” On Sunday, 1,000+ #JewsAgainstICE protesters sang, “We will build this world with love,” as 44 of our very own JFREJ members, including a minyan of 11 rabbis, were arrested in Amazon’s midtown bookstore while demanding that the company cut ties with ICE.

Sitting in Amazon bookstorePhoto by Sophie Ellman-Golan

Check out coverage of our action and dozens more nationwide from yesterday in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Haaretz, NBC News, CBS News, Pix-11, AM2DM by Buzzfeed News, The Huffington Post, Gizmodo, The Hill, Daily Dot, +972Magazine, Times of Israel, The Forward, Common Dreams, Fast Company, Fox Business, JTA, and Axios. The list keeps growing.

Marching with 'Never Again Means Never Again' bannerPhoto by Gili Getz

As the great-granddaughter of immigrants who fled Eastern Europe, I was proud to be one of the 44 JFREJers who put our bodies on the line for all of the immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who have been tracked, hunted, detained, and deported by a data-driven machine that is fueled by tech companies like Amazon and Palantir.

Marching with hands in the air
Photo by Gili Getz

In the deeply moving Tisha B’Av service that we held for two hours — smack-dab in the middle of Amazon’s brick and mortar store — we chanted from Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, and read testimonies of immigrants in the camps. We sat in the rubble of this broken place, as our tradition teaches us to do, on the holy day of Tisha B’Av.

Tisha B'Av service in Amazon bookstore
Photo by Gili Getz

Our message was clear: There will be no business as usual, as long as Amazon profits off of this business of cruelty.

I was so inspired to see such a broad coalition of Jewish organizations and synagogues come together alongside our immigrant allies at Make the Road NY and Mijente, including Congregation Beit Simchat Torah – CBST, T’ruah, Romemu, Lab/Shul, Flatbush Jewish Center, SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All, Never Again Action, Avodah, and Malkhut, as well as rabbis, Jewish leaders, and many others. I could feel the power of our unity, histories, and rage. Together, we turned our grief into collective action.

Arrests Amazon bookstore with NYPDPhoto by Gili Getz

And we’re only just getting started. Join me in continuing to turn up the heat on this administration, ICE, and collaborators like Amazon and Palantir by signing up for updates here, and in making a donation to support JFREJ’s powerful work here.

Arrests outside Amazon bookstore with NYPDPhoto by Gili Getz

As we sang yesterday — our arms linked together in Amazon’s bookstore, hands cuffed behind our backs on the police van, and to one another through the walls of our jail cells — we will build this world with love.

See you in the streets,

Melanie Flaxer
Member Leader, JFREJ