Personal Stories

A Barber, a Tailor and a Carpenter

Dec 29, 2015

A barber. A tailor. A carpenter. Elementary and pre-school kids. Just a few of the Syrian refugees HIAS President Mark Hetfield met on a recent visit to Toledo, Ohio.
Julie Smolyansky's last days in Kiev before her parents were resettled to the U.S.

America Welcomed Me. Why Not the Syrians?

Sep 30, 2015

Julie Smolyansky isn’t surprised that the idea of resettling thousands of Syrian refugees in the United States makes some people uncomfortable. She faced similar suspicion when her family was resettled in the United States from the former Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Julia and her husband with her "American parents"

Adopted “American Parents” Helped Soviet Refugee Thrive

Aug 13, 2015

“Despite how difficult it was in Kyrgyzstan, I never considered applying for asylum before I came to America,” Julia Vinsky said. She calmly described a childhood that involved beatings, broken ribs, concussions and even a kidnapping. She sums up her parent’s attitude succinctly: “you are Jewish, so this is how it is.”

Mother and Son Reunited After Three Years Apart

Jul 31, 2015

Although there have been many struggles, Jainaba insists that leaving Gambia was the only way for her to feel safe. Her son says that finally seeing his mother again after three years was the happiest moment of his life.

Author Lev Golinkin Recalls Flight From Ukraine

Jul 31, 2015

In a recent letter, Lev shared his mother’s reasons for leaving Ukraine. “I didn’t want to be afraid of the government anymore, to live in fear of them going to my home,” she told him. “I didn’t want to stand on the schoolhouse steps and worry to death about explaining to my 9-year-old son why being a Jew was bad.”

Lev Golinkin on "A Backpack, a Bear and Eight Crates of Vodka"

Dec 23, 2014

Lev Golinkin, author of the memoir "A Backpack, a Bear and Eight Crates of Vodka," discusses his family's 1989-90 journey from Ukraine to the U.S. during an appearance at HIAS headquarters in New York City.

Meet the Refugee Inspiring Me to Live Below the Line

Mar 26, 2014

I know we haven’t met, but I hope you’ll join me in a campaign to change the world.

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