More than 200 people, including representatives from over 50 synagogues and communal organizations, gathered at HIAS' #JewsforRefugees Assembly in New York Wednesday evening to call for stronger international leadership to alleviate the global refugee crisis.
The event, at the Manny Cantor Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side–just blocks from where HIAS was founded in 1881–demonstrated wide-ranging support for refugees among members of New York’s Jewish community.
As HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield told the standing room only gathering, “we’re still standing for refugees 135 years later.”
Ahead of next week’s two historic summits on refugees, attendees heard from refugees, policy experts, and community leaders who described the critical opportunity facing the United States and the world in response to the worst refugee crisis in modern history.
Among the speakers who addressed the event were Manny Lindenbaum, a Holocaust survivor and advocate for refugees, who was reunited with his family in 1946 with help from HIAS, Sana Mustafa, a Syrian refugee who is now a Bard College student, Rabbi Serge Lippe, senior rabbi at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Eleanor Acer, of Human Rights First, who will be the only representative from an American NGO speaking at Monday's UN meeting on refugees and migrants.
Mark Hetfield, Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ vice president of policy and advocacy and Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, vice president of community engagement spoke about how the organization is working to help refugees through resettlement, advocacy and by raising awareness.
The Assembly symbolizes just one component of the year-long national Jewish response to the refugee crisis, which is mobilizing tens of thousands of Jews from coast to coast in support of the safety and dignity of contemporary refugees. Nearly 200 congregations have joined the Welcome Campaign, pledging to take action on behalf of refugees in their local communities.
At the end of the night, participants at the #JewsforRefugees Assembly staged a photo-action to send a message to President Obama and Ambassador Samantha Power ahead of next week’s high-level meetings on refugees.
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