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A 136-Year-Old Jewish Refugee Agency’s New Mission

Jun 15, 2017

External News

On June 14, a week before World Refugee Day, JTA published a detailed profile on HIAS’ roots and rapid evolution under the Trump administration.

More than a century old, HIAS has seen its activist profile rise higher this year than perhaps at any point in its history. It’s brought thousands of people to demonstrate in the streets and organized hundreds of synagogues to take action. And it’s about to stand before the Supreme Court as a plaintiff in a suit challenging the second version of Trump’s ban, which two judges blocked in March...

Trump’s vociferous opposition to admitting Syrian refugees has thrust the group into a paradox: Its officials portray themselves as reluctant activists who would prefer to remain outside of the partisan fray—working with the government, not against it. But for all intents and purposes, HIAS has joined the front lines of what anti-Trump protesters call ‘the Resistance.’

And as JTA points out, HIAS’ work is supported in large part by the commitment of the American Jewish community to welcoming refugees.

“Before the election, the Welcome Campaign included just over 200 synagogues,” writes JTA. “Eight months later the number is up to 360.”

Additionally, “an organizing meeting for young professionals in Washington on Feb. 6 was expected to draw 30 people; 500 showed up.”

As Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, vice president of community engagement for HIAS, put it, “the silver lining of Trump coming into the presidency has been the uptick in a sense of urgency and an uptick in activism.”

To read the full article on JTA.org, click here.