Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of the Beth Shir Shalom synagogue in Santa Monica, California, told his congregation during a Rosh Hashanah sermon on Monday that he does not condone former student Stephen Miller's "negativity, violence, malice, and brutality" toward immigrants.
Miller is President Trump's senior adviser for policy and one of the chief architects of his travel ban and directive to separate migrant children from their parents. Beth Shir Shalom is a progressive reform synagogue that Miller attended while growing up in Santa Monica, and Comess-Daniels said that he's been asked by other rabbis why Miller turned out the way he did. "I can assure you, as I can assure them, that what I taught is a Judaism that cherishes wisdom, values ... wide horizons and an even wider embrace," he said.
The sermon was streamed live on Facebook, The Guardian reports, and Comess-Daniels said that separating families is "completely antithetical to everything I know about Judaism, Jewish law, and Jewish values." In a message directed at Miller, Comess-Daniels said he has "set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole through your arbitrary division of these desperate people" and "the actions that you now encourage President Trump to take make it obvious to me that you didn't get my, or our, Jewish message ... you should be ashamed of yourself." Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and Comess-Daniels said he felt compelled to speak out because "in a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible. Because we want this society to remain free, we will continue to act." Catherine Garcia