HIAS Welcome Circles: A Jewish Community Resettlement Initiative

There are currently approximately 45,000 Afghan men, women, and children living on U.S. military bases around the country (as of November 15). While these bases have served as safe landing spots for Afghans evacuated after the Taliban took control in August, they never were intended as a long-term solution. These families need to be resettled so they can start their new lives in their new American communities.

Resettling so many people in a short period of time is unprecedented in recent history and has strained the U.S. resettlement system, so a solution known as Sponsor Circles is being pioneered across the United States. With deep experience in refugee resettlement and honed strategies for educating, organizing, and mobilizing the Jewish community, HIAS is launching and supporting HIAS Welcome Circles, a network of Afghan sponsor circles.

HIAS Welcome Circles 

The national Afghan sponsor circle model is being created by the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH) with direct support and guidance from Canadian agencies. HIAS Welcome Circles build on this core model.

  • HIAS Welcome Circles will be made up of groups of 5-8 people who will have close contact with Afghans they are sponsoring, though other members of local communities will likely contribute to the resettlement process. All participating sponsors will be vetted and approved by HIAS (including complete background checks), and must be 18 years old or older. 
  • HIAS Welcome Circle participants are expected to commit a minimum of six months of support (time, funds, other resources) for Afghan refugees as they begin to settle into communities. 
  • HIAS Welcome Circle members will meet new Afghan arrivals at the airport, help find housing and furnishings, help to find jobs, register children for schools, and sign individuals up for public benefits such as TANF and SNAP among other responsibilities.
  • HIAS Welcome Circles are expected to raise a minimum of $2,275 per Afghan individual they welcome; however, based on cost of living, access to in-kind support, and other factors, we strongly recommend that circles raise more than this amount.

If your congregation or organization is interested in forming a HIAS Welcome Circle, please fill out this form.

As an umbrella agency, HIAS will provide support to Welcome Circles, including technical and operational resources on best practices in refugee resettlement; technical expertise; peer-to-peer mentoring; and Jewish resources to ground the experience and the work.

Successful resettlement and integration are a local endeavor. HIAS is ready to meet the challenge of the current moment — providing resources, technical guidance, and support to the Jewish community so that they can welcome and assist new Afghan neighbors to begin to rebuild their lives.

Watch this recent HIAS webinar on sponsorship circles to learn more.

For more information on HIAS Welcome Circles, please contact Isabel Burton, Senior Director for Community Engagement Initiatives, at isabel.burton@hias.org.