HIAS Blog

Nathaniel in Europe/Israel -- Greetings from Tel Aviv!

Posted by Nathaniel Berman on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 13:55 pm

We spent an incredible Shabbat in Kiev, and had the chance to meet up with my fellow Young Leader and HIAS Board Member Valentin Povarchuk, who was coincidentally in Kiev for business. We had the chance to make home visits to refugees that HIAS assists in Kiev, then we visited a facility run by Integration Centre at ROKADA Charitable Fund (a human rights agency supported by UNHCR, which provides services for Afghan refugees). We then took a tour of historic


Nathaniel in Europe/Israel - Greetings from Vienna!

Posted by Nathaniel Berman on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 13:50 pm

Yesterday we visited HIAS' office in Vienna, which serves as an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE), providing services such as a cultural exchange program to prepare refugees for life in the U.S. For instance, one of their programs teaches refugees how to open a bank account in the U.S.

We then visited the U.S. Consulate, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the local offices of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which provides services to the Jewish Iranian refugees processed at the


How I Spent My Summer Vacation—A Law Student's Experience at the HIAS Tel Aviv Office

Posted by Aliyah Phillips on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 16:34 pm

Crash Course in Israeli Asylum Law

I couldn’t have asked for a better first week at my internship in HIAS’s Israel office. When I came in to work on Monday morning, I met with my supervising attorney, Sivan Carmel, and she gave me an in depth introduction to refugee law in general and in Israel, and HIAS’s activities here. She explained how Israel began reviewing asylum seekers’ claims in July 2009, less than a year ago. Before that, the United Nations


Mission Countdown: Preparing to visit HIAS' operations abroad

Posted by Nathaniel Berman on Mon, Oct 04, 2010 at 15:04 pm

Hello readers and welcome to my first HIAServe blog post! I have been given the opportunity to travel with members of HIAS' Board of Directors on the upcoming Mission to visit HIAS' operations in Austria, Ukraine, and Israel. We leave this weekend, and I'm already so excited! The draft agenda that we received seems jam-packed with extraordinary meetings, including with refugee coordinators, United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representatives, and ambassadors. I consider my participation in this mission to


Of Note: Seeking Refuge and Renewal with HIAS' Assistance During the High Holiday Season

Posted by Gideon Aronoff on Fri, Sep 03, 2010 at 15:02 pm

Each year, as we approach the High Holidays and prepare to observe Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, Jews around the world reconsider their actions of the past year in order to recreate their lives anew. This season is a focal point for our spiritual lives as we turn in repentance, but it also represents a central theme in Jewish history and life – a search for refuge, family connection, and shelter that allows us to fulfill our lives and


The Abayudaya Youth Association -- Motto: Struggle Continues

Posted by Amy Schwartz on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Jewish? Uganda?

Abayudaya?

Who are they?

The Abayudaya are a Ugandan community who began practicing Judaism in 1919. They are not genetically or historically ethnic Jews but are a devout community keeping Kashrut and fully observing Shabbat.

The story begins with a British colonial agent, Semei Kakungulu, who started to keep and practice the Jewish Shabbat and shortly later had roughly 3,000 followers.

Today the Abayudaya have roughly 1,250 followers and are only recognized by members of the Reform and Conservative movements.

When the HIAS


Of Note: July Fourth Reflections -- The Jewish Meaning of Nepali Bhutanese Resettlement

Posted by Gideon Aronoff on Mon, Jul 05, 2010 at 14:29 pm

Each year the Fourth of July offers me a chance to reflect on the meaning of the United States for me as an American, a member of the Jewish community, and an advocate for immigrants and refugees. And each year I feel immense gratitude for the welcome this country gave my great grandparents and the waves of Jewish immigrants and refugees from all corners of the world.

An honest reading of history makes clear that the American immigration story is a


A Means to an End

Posted by Michelle Wachtel on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 15:23 pm

When I moved to Washington, DC in 2008 I wanted to meet new people and get involved in the local Jewish community – HIAS Young Leaders provided me with both of these opportunities. To many of my friends HIAS was a mere jumble of letters, something I had to repeat a few times when I was explaining that I was off to a meeting or our monthly film club. But to me, HIAS is a house-hold name. Although I didn’t


Angelina Jolie's visit to Lago Agrio, Ecuador

Posted by Genever McBain on Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 16:44 pm

In her capacity as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie recently traveled to Ecuador to visit with Colombian refugees and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

Jolie also visited the remote provincial capital of Lago Agrio, where upwards of 10,000 Colombians came through in 2001 to escape the ongoing violence in Colombia that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left almost 2 million people homeless since the internal conflict began some 40 years ago.


"A refugee wishes they had your problems"

Posted by Amy Schwartz on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 15:27 pm

There is a poster hanging in the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya Office by UNHCR that says, “Your Sympathy cannot help a refugee. But it is a beginning.”

Let me first give you a short background of what HRTK does and why their services are highly needed. First off, conflicts in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to seek safe haven in Kenya and Uganda. (HRTK does missions


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