Take Action on National Refugee Shabbat


Join the Jewish response to the refugee crisis.



National Refugee Shabbat 5780, which will take place on March 20-21, 2020, is a moment for congregations, organizations, and individuals around the country to dedicate a Shabbat experience to refugees and asylum seekers. 

Register: Learn more about how your community or group can participate at hias.org/nrs - it's not too late!

There are also many ways individuals can take action for refugees and asylum seekers in the week leading up to National Refugee Shabbat, as well as on the actual Shabbat itself (in accordance with individual Shabbat practice). Feel free to share the list below widely with family and friends.

12 Ways to Take Action this National Refugee Shabbat

1. AdvocateCall your Member of Congress to ask them to stand for the rights, safety and dignity of refugees and asylum seekers.

2. Get Involved in the Election – Research the candidates running in local elections in your area, and let them know that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers are among your top priority issues this year.

3. Update Your Facebook Photo Frame – Show your support for refugees by updating your Facebook profile picture with the HIAS #JewsforRefugees frame. Click here for directions.

4. Join the “Jews for Refugees” Facebook Group - Joining this group is a great way to connect with thousands of other committed individuals across the country, access up-to-the-minute information about the Jewish response to the refugee crisis, and share the actions that you are taking. Click here to join.

5. Donate Your Miles to Asylum Seekers – HIAS has partnered with Miles4Migrants (M4M), a nonprofit charity dedicated to using donated frequent flyer miles and money for the relocation of refugees and those seeking asylum – including families recently separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. HIAS and Miles4Migrants (M4M) will work to identify refugees and asylum seekers who need assistance purchasing airfare to reunite with their families. Donate your frequent flyer miles here the week of National Refugee Shabbat.

6. Buy Refugee-Produced Goods – Support refugees and asylum seekers around the world and in your local community by buying refugee-produced goods and/or researching refugee-owned restaurants in your community and having a meal there. Check out this website to purchase goods made by a collective of African asylum-seeking women living in Tel Aviv, Israel.

7. Give Life to Refugees and Asylum Seekers – In the week leading up to National Refugee Shabbat, set up a Facebook fundraiser to benefit HIAS’ work. 

8. Scholarships for Displaced Students – Research whether your local universities and colleges offer scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers. If not, reach out and ask them to consider starting such a program. Check out Columbia University’s program for an example.

9. Have A Difficult Conversation – Using the HIAS Conversational Guide for How to Talk About Refugees with Family and Friends, commit to having at least one conversation with someone in your life who has expressed concern about welcoming refugees to the United States or even someone who has made disparaging remarks about refugees or asylum seekers.

10. Light Shabbat Candles with Intention – As you welcome Shabbat on March 20, use this reading before lighting Shabbat candles to set an intention to stand with refugees and asylum seekers around the globe.

11. Host A Gathering In Your Home – Invite a small group of friends over to your home for Shabbat dinner or lunch or a havdallah (the ceremony for closing Shabbat) wine and cheese gathering. At the gathering, consider using the HIAS National Refugee Shabbat 5780-2020 Programming Content Resource. Use the text study on page 6 of this guide as a jumping off point for conversation, take a look at and discuss the refugee art on page 13 of this guide, or screen the movie suggested on page 14 and 15 of this guide.

12. Start A Book Club – Start a book club – for adults or young people – to read books by and about refugees and asylum seekers. Use this list as a jumping off point for suggestions or search google for even more ideas.