Community Briefs: Two Rabbis Arrested for Blocking ICE Entrance and More

protesters dressed like statues of liberty
Protestors outside ICE in Philadelphia including Rabbi Arthur Waskow (seated) and his wife, Rabbi Phyllis Berman (far right) (Photo courtesy of Rabbi Arthur Waskow)

Two Rabbis, Two Others Arrested for Blocking ICE Entrance

Rabbi Arthur Waskow and his wife, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, were among four people arrested Sept. 4 by federal agents after they blocked the entrance to the federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement Agency’s building in Philadelphia.

They were there to protest the treatment of migrant children at the Southern border. Their arrest made national headlines.

“The arrests were part of a demonstration of about 100 people organized by ElderWitness and Friends, many of whom wore Statue of Liberty costumes and carried signs of a cartoon showing two caged people: an immigrant child in a small cage and Lady Liberty herself in a slightly larger one,” Waskow, 86, wrote in an email to the Jewish Exponent. “The child asks Liberty, ‘What are you in for?’ and she answers, ‘For welcoming you.’”

Waskow continued, “Although this particular action was organized and framed as elders responsible especially for protecting children, Phyllis and I took part as rabbis in planning the action (Phyllis has been on the EldersWitness steering committee), and our arrests also are for us connected with a major wave of Jewish protests, including arrests, that swept across the country on or about Tisha B’Av in August.”

Waskow was detained last year during a similar demonstration at the same location, JTA reported.

Waskow is a longtime political activist known for his 1969 Freedom Seder.

black and white photo of Hank (Ephrain) Royfe
Hank (Ephrain) Royfe (Jewish Exponent archives)

Longtime JEVS Executive Director Hank Royfe Dies at 92

Hank (Ephrain) Royfe, who served as executive director of Jewish Employment Vocational Services in Philadelphia for 23 years, died Sept. 4. He was 92.

During his tenure at JEVS, which started in 1972, Royfe built the agency from 60 employees and a $1 million budget to one with a $29 million budget and 750 full- and part-time employees, according to a June 1995 Jewish Exponent article.

In a 1992 op-ed for the Exponent, Royfe wrote about issues that remain pressing today.

“A decrement of income among Jewish families makes them vulnerable to opting out of the Jewish community’s institutions, including religious and educational facilities and their support of (Jewish) Federation,” he wrote. “Current research indicates that Jewish individuals with low incomes also become more vulnerable to leaving Judaism through intermarriage.”

Prior to JEVS, Royfe served as director of development and community services at Elwyn Institute for six years and was deputy director of Pennsylvania’s Comprehensive Mental Health-Mental Retardation Plan from 1963 to 1965, according to an Exponent article from March 1972.

Royfe was a World War II veteran, serving as a Japanese translator in the Philippines.

Holocaust Museum’s Annual Philadelphia Dinner Upcoming

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will host its annual “What You Do Matters” Philadelphia Dinner at 6 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the Crystal Tea Room in Center City.

More than 200 attendees are expected at the dinner, which will highlight the Washington, D.C., museum’s work to keep Holocaust memory alive in a changing world.

Lieutenant General, The Honorable Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the 2,600-member international peacekeeping force in Rwanda in 1993-1994, is the keynote speaker. In 2014, he received the museum’s Elie Wiesel Award for his courage and leadership in trying to stop atrocities in that nation 25 years ago.


  1. I am very sad to learn of Dr. Royfe’s passing. He was a pleasure to work for at JEVS, where I was a job developer in the 1980’s. May he rest in peace. Wishing all his family my heartfelt condolences.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here