What Are We Doing About the Refugee Crisis?

As we watch the horrifying photos and learn of the terrifying plight of the Syrian refugees, we know that we cannot turn away.  As Jews, remembering our people who sought refuge and were turned away before and after the Holocaust, we are moved to act on behalf of others struggling to find refuge.  Our tradition teaches us to “welcome the stranger,” and especially now, as we take an accounting of our souls during the High Holidays, we must ask ourselves, “What can we do to help?”
Not surprisingly, RS is partnering with and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Pennsylvania and already stepping up. Here are several opportunities for us to get involved:
•    Sign a Petition to Admit More Refugees. Since the beginning of this year, the U.S. has taken in only a little over 1,200 of the millions of Syrian refugees displaced by war.  President Obama has just announced that the U.S. will take in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year.  We can and should do more.  You can help by signing the HIAS petition asking the President to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in the United States. http://support.hias.org/site/PageNavigator/AskthePresidenttoTakeBoldLeadershipforSyrianRefugees.html
•    Donate Goods for a Refugee Family. HIAS Pennsylvania is one of a limited number of agencies authorized to work with the U.S. State Department to provide  services, including housing, essential furnishings, food, clothing, orientation, and assistance with access to other social, medical, and employment services for the refugees’ first 90 days in the United States.   HIAS has just been notified that it has been assigned a Syrian refugee family who will be arriving in Philadelphia shortly.  Congregants can help in the resettlement process by donating gently used furniture and household items.  Here is a link to the wish list of items needed: http://hiaspa.org/sites/hiaspa.org/files/attachments/hias_pa_donation_full_wish_list_-_2013-24-7.pdf  More information will be posted soon about where to bring items for donation
•    “Adopt” a Refugee Family.  In October, HIAS PA will do a presentation at RS  for volunteers interested in “adopting” a refugee family through HIAS.  After initial training, volunteers will visit with the family on a regular basis at mutually convenient times to assist with such things as reading the mail to identify important items, helping with English, reading to the children, taking trips to the market, helping with phone calls to set up appointments, exploring the local library, or going to a museum, etc. The presentation at RS will include stories about current refugee families, and volunteers who will talk about their experiences with “adopting” refugee families.
•    Donate to Support Syrian and Other Refugee Services:  http://hiaspa.org/donate
•    Learn More.  Attend HIAS Pennsylvania’s annual meeting and lunch on October 14, 2015, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Jewish Federation building, 2100 Arch Street, featuring a keynote address by the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Leon Rodriguez. http://hiaspa.org/AM2015

For More information, or to get involved, please contact Stuart Schmidt at schmidt@temple.edu  or Carole Wilder at cwilder14@outlook.com