Several dozen young Jews on Monday blocked the street in front of the San Francisco office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sitting shiva for the 11 Jews murdered in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last week and protesting white nationalism, as well as the administration’s continuing arrest and detention of undocumented immigrants.
A contingent of protesters, many belonging to organizations such as IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace or local synagogues such as Berkeley’s Chochmat HaLev, spread across Washington Street, blocking traffic and unfurling a banner that read “Jewish Resistance.” A second group sat in in the middle of Sansome Street, surrounding a circular piece of fabric decorated with a painted Tree of Life. Protesters chanted in English and Yiddish, “Mir veln zey iberlebn” — “We will outlive them” — a phrase from a Yiddish protest song that has become a rallying cry among young left-wing Jews since the 2016 presidential election.
Protest leaders made special mention of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the venerable Jewish organization that was cited by the Pittsburgh shooter in his anti-Jewish vitriol. In another speech, one protest leader cited the doomed 1939 voyage of the St. Louis, a ship that carried Jewish refugees from Germany to the shores of the United States but was turned away. The 900 passengers returned to Europe, where more than 200 were later killed.
“We realize we are not safer,” said one protester. “We are all at risk because of white supremacy and the targeting of the Jewish community. Because we support HIAS, we need to stand extra strong with immigrants at this time.”