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OCTOBER 2016 

Dear <<Title>> <<Last Name>>,

Shana tova! Our collective voice in support of welcoming refugees is having a real impact. During September’s historic UN General Assembly, the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, convened by President Obama, and at our #JewsforRefugees Assembly in NYC, the Jewish response of the refugee crisis was heard loud and clear. 5777 is off to a powerful start.

With your support, more than 200 congregations have now joined the HIAS Welcome Campaign and our growing movement continues to receive substantial media interest (read more here and here).

We encourage you to share this newsletter, or some of its contents, widely. All members of Welcome Campaign congregations can receive the newsletter directly by sending their name, email address, and the name of the congregation to Isabel Burton, HIAS’ community engagement program specialist.

TAKE ACTION

  • Sign HIAS’ petition calling on the U.S. government to work for the safety and dignity of refugees worldwide.

  • Did you watch the Presidential debates and feel compelled to respond to some of the statements about refugees? Read and share our blog post on the facts.  

  • Send a message that your congregation supports welcome for refugees on Facebook or Twitter. Sample post:  “My synagogue joined the 200+ congregations on the @HIASRefugees Welcome Campaign. Is your synagogue on the list?  #JewsforRefugees”

  • Join HIAS for the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on December 11-13. HIAS is involved in planning the Refugee Resettlement and Advocacy track at the conference. For more information please contact Isabel.
  • Is your synagogue organizing any events or initiatives in November, including Thanksgiving programs with refugees? If so let Isabel know.  

DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD

Whether your congregation is working directly with newly resettled refugees, planning education events, or organizing meetings with elected officials, it is likely that a relatively small group of committed volunteers are at the heart of the work and therefore, most deeply connected to the efforts underway. Here are examples of how Welcome Campaign synagogues are striving to create ways for more members to feel connected to a their refugee-related efforts:

At Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue, Montclair, NJ the refugee committee has set up a ‘Syrian Supper Club,’ which regularly brings together the refugee families they are supporting with members of the congregation. For each supper club gathering, a meal is prepared by their new Syrian neighbors who share their traditional cooking skills. Each guest donates a minimum of $50 to cover meal costs and support the families. This model allows the newly resettled refugees to share their unique knowledge and skills, and to participate in an income-generating effort that helps give them greater independence and confidence. It also provides an opportunity for new neighbors to come together over good food, to socialize and to get to know one another.  

Congregation Shaare Emeth, a congregation in St. Louis, MO, has partnered with a local resettlement agency to work with families resettling to the St. Louis area. Volunteers - often families - visit their new neighbors during their first four weeks after their arrival, helping make sure they have everything they need, orienting them to their neighborhood, and helping communicate their needs to caseworkers. Their men’s club is planning to begin preparing apartments for newly arriving individuals; adults and teens babysit the children of their new neighbors while parents attend ESL classes; and congregants have donated needed supplies. Others work with refugees on mock job interviews, and the children in Shaare Emeth’s religious school assemble supply packages.

Please share your ideas, questions, and requests by emailing Isabel.

RESOURCES AND TIPS

New Resources: 

  • HIAS created 5 beautiful posters featuring the images and stories of refugees for Sukkot. However, these downloadable resources can be used long after your sukkah has been taken down. They are a great way to generate awareness and prompt discussion about how your community might take action to support refugees.  
  • On October 20, HIAS held a briefing call to update our supporters on recent events, including the election and the refugee summits. Listen to it here
General Resources:
  • HIAS has many additional resources including FAQs, Myths and Facts about Syrian Refugee Resettlement, Refugee Torah, and How Congregations Can Respond to the Refugee Crisis. Peruse them here.

IN THE NEWS

HIAS, the world's oldest, and only Jewish, refugee organization, works in 11 countries across five continents to ensure that refugees and displaced persons can live in safety and with dignity. Once, we helped refugees because they were Jewish. Today we help refugees because we are Jewish.

HEADQUARTERS: 1300 Spring Street, Suite 500 Silver Spring, MD 20910
NEW YORK OFFICE: 411 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1006 New York, NY 10016


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