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

One Response to What Are We Doing About the Refugee Crisis?

  1. lyn linker says:

    I know what I will say will not go over well, but at this point in my life I really don’t care what anyone thinks about what I say or believe.

    With all due respect to the writer of this blog and everyone who helps the Syrian refugees I don’t plan to lift a finger to help any of them.

    Not until all the thousands of people in California who lost everything in the devastating fires are made whole again.

    Not as long as parts of New Orleans still look like it did the day after Katrina made landfall-more than 10 years after the fact.

    Not as long as people in Philadelphia, Boston, New York and every major city in Philadelphia still live and sleep on the streets.

    Not as long as 1 in 5 or 6(depending on what statistic you read) children in this country don’t have enough and/or adequate food to eat.

    Not as long as millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed.

    Not as long as veterans who served this country honorably have to
    deal with a broken VA health system, to the point that many of those men and women die waiting for the care they earned and deserve. I am a veteran who does not use the VA system because I can afford a top-notch Blue Cross policy. Not all my brother and sister veterans can afford private in insurance and must rely on the VA, which as anyone who follows the news knows has clearly failed them.

    Not as long as 11 million or more illegal immigrants and the notch babies that some of them have are entitled to tax-payer funded services.

    Not as long as millions of Americans have no or inadequate health care. Obama care is working but not for everyone.

    Not as long as the Philadelphia schools don’t have enough books, teachers, nurses, counselors and other materials and personnel to properly educate the children who attend public schools.

    Not until someone can explain to me why the overwhelming majority of the refugees are Muslim yet most Muslim countries refuse to take any of the refugees in, or limit the amount they let in to a very small amount.

    I don’t believe I am cold and heartless. I DO believe I am a realist..
    There is only so much money and services to go around. I believe that money and services should be spent dealing with the problems the above Americans are facing. We should save our own citizens before we try to save the world.

    As I said in my second paragraph I mean no disrespect to the writer of this blog or to Stuart Schmidt or Carol Wilder who seem to be contact personnel or to anyone who desires to help the refugees. But I don’t agree with the above blog and since there is still freedom of expression in this country I wanted to express my opinion, as unpopular as I suspect it will be.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Lyn Linker

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