The Old Testament demands concern for the stranger in our midst

To the Editor:

I hope that everyone has a chance to read Chris Galvin’s letter to the editor in last week’s Altamont Enterprise (“Undocumented immigrants are contributing members of our society,” Dec. 19, 2020, or online), in response to Arlene Shako’s letter “Vaccinate undocumented immigrants last,” Dec. 3, 2020).

Many people accept the falsities that undocumented immigrants are a burden on society, take our jobs, commit the most crimes, and other unsubstantiated canards. Those untruths and misrepresentations have spurred unkindnesses and racism.

The reality is what Chris wrote: Without undocumented immigrants, our country wouldn’t function; Social Security would collapse; and our military would suffer without noncitizen, immigrant personnel.

The Old Testament demands concern for the stranger in our midst. For example:

“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself …” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them …” (Exodus 22:20).

“You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike …” (24:22).

“You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless …” (Deuteronomy 24:17)

The Prophet Ezekiel locates the sin of Sodom in its inhospitality to strangers, its cruelty, and perversion of justice. He describes Sodom as arrogant and insensitive to human need. 

Later, one of the greatest rabbis in Jewish history, Hillel, taught: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? But when I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” 

Thank you, Chris, for the research you shared with us. 

I hope this holiday season is a catalyst for gratitude for the miracle of science and for kindly acts towards the less fortunate.

Edie Abrams

New Scotland


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