Welcoming refugees: a moral imperative


In his newly-revised, controversial executive order, President Trump suspended significant parts of the United States refugee program for 120 days and also decreased the number of refugees allowed into our country by 50%. It blocks the entry of people who are suffering greatly and are fleeing their country because of persecution.

I feel personally connected to the refugee issue because some of my grandparents and great-grandparents were refugees who fled Nazi persecution. My grandmother, Rivka Maruvka, escaped from the slave-labor camp Sered, Czechoslovakia and hid in an underground bunker for a year. My great-grandfather, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, ran away from Nazi Germany after Hitler came to power because he was targeted for his anti-Nazi activities. It is only because of brave people who welcomed them that I am alive today.

Most of us have no idea what hardships refugees must suffer in order to escape violence and war. In this poem, I have tried to imagine what some refugees are experiencing in their flight to freedom.We must learn from the past and realize that it is our moral obligation to do everything we can to welcome refugees into our country. If the government won’t provide them a safe haven, we must individually organize and find ways to provide refugees with a safe place to live.


Hell on Earth



Pain, hunger, fatigue, and fear

feelings that I experience

in my journey to find shelter.


In the blazing hot desert

I am being roasted

over a fire.


I walk barefoot on the flaming sand

wishing I were already dead.


My feet are being stabbed by thorns

like a warrior in battle getting speared.


Every minute in the desert

feels like

an hour of torture.


When my body cries out for water

It receives only 1%

for I can only drink drops

when my body desires gallons.



I stubbed my toe on a rock

my whole toenail came off

the pain is unbearable.


We refugees

barely have any food or water

but to survive

we must withstand these excruciating conditions.


These days in the desert,

hardest of my life

can I make it through?


And as I endure these hardships

I think to myself

my family, my sweet family

are they alive

or dead?

This question is tearing me apart.


As I walk with my fellow refugees in the scorching heat

we see people lying on the ground

they’re dead

I could tell man did not kill them

It was the desert that committed this heinous crime.


But some of these men are alive

they are on the last breaths of their lives

women are giving them water to save them

but people are yelling

“You will die just like they! Don’t give them your water!”

They are right but also wrong.


All of us refugees

ripped from our homes by violence

and to find a haven

we are experiencing hell on earth.


Niv Leibowitz is an 8th-grade student at the Berman Hebrew Academy.  He enjoys playing basketball, practicing piano, doing parkour and making friends with kids of all backgrounds. 


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  1. An excellent expression of pain and anguish that people seeking refuge from unimaginable oppression felt in the past and others again undergo in these modern times. Col hacavod, Niv.


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