Dr. Scott Rifkin: Another Kind of Love

Originally published on Jmore Baltimore Jewish Living on 1st Feb, 2021 

This month is our Love Issue. Never has this topic been more important. It is time to really understand what love is. On one level it is the intense way we care about our children and our parents. It is the caring and passion we feel for our spouse or lover. Those are important emotions, and we will celebrate them with this issue.

There is another kind of love. It is based in decency and morality. It is our love of humanity. Do we care about others or do we only care for those in our small circles? When we care about the immigrant, we are caring about humanity. When we care about the poor, we are caring about humanity. When we look into the soul and pain of someone else we are rising above the innate selfishness of humans and lifting ourselves to higher moral level.

I recently had a conversation with a very close friend and business partner. I have known him like a brother since I was a boy. I have deep love in my heart for him. The conversation was about immigrants and it troubled me.

My friend is a conservative. I asked him how he felt about Donald Trump now. Despite having voted for him he now admitted the former president was a disgrace. So, I doubled down and asked if he now regretted his votes. He did not. I couldn’t help myself and asked why not? He responded to tell me several reasons including his stand on immigration.

My friend insisted that he doesn’t hate illegal immigrants but that they can’t be allowed to be here against the law. I reminded him that our grandparents were all immigrants and he countered that they came according to the law. What he refused to acknowledge is that we have created laws that allow white folks from Europe to immigrate to the U.S. but deny brown-skinned folks from South America. There is essentially no way for these immigrants to come legally.

I posed to my friend one last question — when the MS St Louis carrying 937 German Jews approached the shores of the U.S. in 1939, was the law that refused their entry morally acceptable and should it have been enforced? At least 600 of the ship passengers would be murdered and the Nazis used this rejection of the Jews as an excuse for future murders. Essentially saying don’t blame us for their fate once you reject the Jewish refugees.

He stammered a bit and then fell back on “the law is the law.” I truly hope that was his pride speaking and not his heart. There are certain laws of humanity that supersede the laws of the state. The immigrants from South America want only what our grandparents wanted — economic opportunity, freedom from violence, and education for their children. We see it today as having been the inalienable right of our grandparents to come here but deny the same right to other human beings?

It is time to love our fellow man. It is time to find a path for the illegal immigrants already here in the U.S. It is time to find a way for the DACA kids who have never known another home to be made citizens. It is time to find a way for a reasonable number of immigrants to come to the U.S. Let’s create a system where they can apply from their home countries without having to travel a trail of tears and abuse to the border.

Our country can handle more immigrants. It always has. Our melting pot has worked for more than 200 years. Our population density is low. Our farms, worked by illegal immigrants, can feed many more. They commit half the crimes percentage wise of any other U.S. group. They do the jobs many don’t want. They mow our lawns, build our houses, and care for our elderly. Their children will be doctors and lawyers and teachers. Those not here yet will do the same. They will bring their culture, their food, their arts. They will be great Americans.

On Valentine’s Day, I will bring flowers to my wonderful wife of 37 years and my amazing mother soon to be 90 years old. I will call my married daughter and tell her I love her. Then I’ll pray for my friend and hope he can find love in his heart for the huddled masses yearning for the same as his grandparents not so very long ago.


Scott Rifkin, MD, Publisher