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Nearly 200 U.S. Congregations Pledge Support for Refugees

NEW YORK—Over the course of the past year, the Jewish response to the global refugee crisis has transformed into a national movement – mobilizing thousands of rabbis, synagogues, organizations, volunteers and advocates in support of welcoming refugees. Driven by tradition and shared experience, the American Jewish community has pushed for stronger U.S. leadership in aiding the more than 65 million people worldwide who have been displaced from their homes due to persecution and violence. In a climate of inflamed political rhetoric, toxic xenophobia and increased fear, nearly 200 congregations across the United States have joined the HIAS Welcome Campaign.

By joining the Welcome Campaign, these congregations are pledging to take action through educating others about refugees, holding events and programs, advocating with elected officials for better policies, raising money to support refugees, and helping to welcome refugees into their own local communities. The impact is already making a difference in cities throughout the country.  In cities as varied as Chicago, Albany, N.Y., and Washington DC, members of local congregations are helping resettled families set up their homes.  Dozens of synagogues have set up refugee taskforce committees to work closely with HIAS in efforts to mobilize a local Jewish response to the refugee crisis.

“The American Jewish response to the largest refugee crisis recorded in history is really about who we want to be as American Jews,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President of Community Engagement at HIAS. “All across the country, local Jewish communities are acting on their values and insisting as Americans and as Jews that desperate families be given the chance to rebuild their lives in safety.  Together, we are refusing to be silent bystanders at this historic moment. With the involvement of Jewish communities across America, we are changing the geography of welcome. We know our country can securely resettle more refugees and provide greater assistance to vulnerable refugees abroad. And as Jews we know we must.”

The launch of the Welcome Campaign comes at the end of a Jewish calendar year that has been marked by significant communal engagement on behalf of refugees. In December, more than 1,200 American rabbis signed on to a letter calling on our leaders to "exercise moral leadership" and to "uphold the great legacy of a country that welcomes refugees." In April, Jewish communities across the country used a refugee-themed Haggadah supplement at their Passover Seders to make connections between the traditional retelling the story of Exodus and the stories of today’s refugees.

Click here to see the full list of synagogues participating in the campaign. Local representatives are available to discuss how their communities are engaging to support refugees.