Tisha B’Av: Jews Say #CloseTheCamps

United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country, is asking allies to take action to close immigrant detention camps. Jewish organizations across the country — led by NCJW, T’ruah, Bend the Arc, and J Street — are organizing Jewish events on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11, 2019 on Tisha B’Av to #CloseTheCamps.

Tisha B’av is a Jewish day of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. We will use the saddest day on the Jewish calendar to mourn and resist the policies of our current government that are endangering, imprisoning, and deporting refugees and immigrants seeking safety. If planning or attending an event is in line with your Jewish practice, we encourage you to take action. These actions will:

  • Link our contemporary activism with traditional Jewish rituals of mourning and lament for Tisha B’Av;  
  • Be in solidarity with our immigrant family members, neighbors, and communities;  
  • Shine a light on the deplorable conditions immigrants, including children, face in detention; and 
  • Demand the administration close immigrant detention camps. 

Planning an event? See the guide below!

Select an Action
NCJW, T’ruah, Bend the Arc, and J Street is working to plan events across the country. Before planning your own event, check whether there is already an event in your area by looking at the list of events. If there’s nothing planned in your area, then get started on planning your action! Also, listen to an NCJW/T’ruah “how-to webinar.”

Let NCJW know about your event. Take pictures and video. Tag us on social media (Twitter – @NCJW, Facebook – @NCJWINC) and send your collateral to Alicia Smith at asmith@ncjw.org. Have questions about planning an event? Contact Hannah Cohen Smith at hcohensmith@ncjw.org.

Decide what type of event would work best in your community: vigil, protest, rally, service, or other action. Then determine the message for the event and who is best suited to communicate your message. Be sure to include a way for attendees to take action to further lift up your message, such as:

  • Asking everyone to call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-2131) to urge their elected official to reduce funding for immigration enforcement and detention
  • Organize a future protest or sit-in.

Regardless of the type of event, you decide to plan, every Tisha B’Av action will be united by sounding the shofar and reading a unifying prayer during the action.

Plan Your Event

  • Location. If you have an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office or detention camp nearby, consider holding a protest or vigil outside. Please be mindful about planning events outside facilities where children are held because of the risk of the kids’ confusion about the purpose of the event. It is preferable to target offices or adult detention facilities. If you are not located near an ICE office or detention camp, consider outdoor venues, such as parks or significant local landmarks. You can also elect to hold a service or vigil inside a house of worship to mourn those impacted by this administration’s dangerous actions.
  • Logistics. Consider practicalities like parking or public transportation. Be sure to apply for any permits needed for the location well in advance, consider what AV equipment you may need, and any banners or signs you want to make or order. Choose a time of day best for turnout and media. As most news reports take place between 5-6 PM and 9-10 PM, holding it before or between these times is ideal for media coverage. Make sure the location is completely accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Speakers. Invite speakers based on the time allotted for the event — don’t over-program. Feature a diversity of speakers and be sure to center local immigrant activists and groups.
  • Timing. The length of the event can impact its attendance and reception, so keep that in mind. Think about what might be happening in your community politically and plan an event for a time when it might have the most impact on public opinion. Be sure to check community calendars and Facebook to avoid possible conflicts with other events aimed at a similar audience.

Create a Facebook Event
In order to publicize your event and encourage substantial turnout, it is critical you create a Facebook event early on and share it widely. Invite event partners as co-hosts on the page and be sure to share the event link in emails and newsletters.

Here’s a link to create a Facebook event.

  • Sample text: Sunday, August 11 is Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning.  We cannot ignore the cries of those whose tragedy is right before us. Modern-day asylum seekers and immigrants deserve to be welcomed with open arms, not packed into detention camps. We will not stand idly by. Join NCJW [insert your section name and/or tag NCJW National] and partners for a protest to #CloseTheCamps at 2 pm EST on Sunday, August 11. We’ll gather outside the ICE Office at 123 Main Street to shine a light on the awful conditions immigrants, including children, face in detention camps and call on the government to close the camps! More details to come.
  • Download sample images here

Register Your Event
Register your event with United We Dream and NCJW/T’ruah so allies across the country can attend. Once registered, events will be populated onto their websites for wide distribution.

Publicize the Action
Engaging the media around your event is a good way to get your message and asks out far and wide. Consider writing a press advisory or press release, promoting your Facebook event on other forms of social media using the hashtag #CloseTheCamps or contacting journalists with whom you have a relationship. Below are links to helpful NCJW resources on engaging the media.

Invite NCJW Members and Supporters
Once the event is planned, invite section members and supporters to attend. Here is a sample email.

Dear [name],

On Sunday, August 11, at [time], NCJW [section name] is joining with [partner groups] to demand an end to our current government’s policies that are endangering, abusing, incarcerating, and deporting refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. August 11 is Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning, and we cannot ignore the cries of those whose tragedy is right before us.

If your religious practices allow, please join us on Sunday, August 11, at [time] at [location] to demand the US government close the detention camps and be in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors and communities. RSVP on the Facebook event, linked here. If you have any questions or would like to be part of the organizing committee, contact [contact name and info].

[Include parking details, and anything participants should bring].

Thank you for taking action on this critical issue on this most solemn day. I hope to see you on Sunday, August 11 at [time] at [location], as we demand our government #CloseTheCamps.


Invite Partners
Asking like-minded groups to co-sponsor the event is a great way to divide up tasks and costs, as well as boost turnout. Are there other local Jewish groups who want to observe the Jewish day of mourning in this way? How about a diverse group of interfaith participants, who are also committed to the cause? You can invite secular organizations to join the event, calling attention to the issue from both a faith and secular perspective.

Invite faith leaders, immigrants’ rights groups, refugee resettlement agencies, immigrant leaders, community members, and if you wish, local elected leaders. It’s important to center communities most impacted by the immigration crisis; be sure to invite local immigration advocacy groups or immigrant leaders to partner and speak.

Prepare Speakers & Key Participants.
Share talking points, internal agenda, and program with speakers to ensure the event runs smoothly. Assign organizers to greet speakers as they arrive and shepherd them to the podium. Designate key participants (who may or may not be speakers) as media points of contact and make sure they are clear about the purpose and message of your event.

Additional Resources 

Sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, National Council of Jewish Women, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, J Street, HIAS, Torah Trumps Hate, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, & United We Dream