The Global Refugee Crisis: How We Can Help


I can’t understand the controversy over whether or not we should help refugees. It makes absolutely no sense to me. When people are suffering, don’t you feel a pull on your heartstrings? Well, I do. There are enormous comparisons between the current refugee crisis and what happened to six million Jews during World War 2. It is undeniable and simply devastating, and unfortunately, the situation is worsening and there is no clear end in sight.

So, wanting to act on my feelings and not just sit around thinking about what I can do, last night I brought a speaker from HIAS, the oldest resettlement organization in the world, to speak to my community about the situation and the appropriate response. The organization has seen time and again that when refugees are provided with a welcoming environment and adequate support, they can be tremendous assets to their neighborhoods and societies, boosting local economies, and excelling at entrepreneurship. This is especially true in the U.S., where starting over offers not just safety but promise and opportunity.

Resettlement is available to a fortunate few — less than 1 percent of the 60 million people worldwide who were forced to flee their homelands due to persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, gender, or sexual orientation.

HIAS’ resettlement clients include some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, those whose lives continued to be at risk in the country to which they immediately fled: women heads of households in cultures where men traditionally serve as protectors, orphaned and separated children who are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, and persecuted LGBT people, among others.

Following resettlement, HIAS supports both refugees and host communities around the U.S. to ensure successful integration. Although this can be a long process requiring the participation of many actors, refugees bring the resilience and resourcefulness that saved their lives at home.

My hope is that my synagogue becomes pivotal as a future resettlement area. My county’s Congressman, Elliot Engel, is in full support of this potential project, and we will need his support. Many of our elected officials actively uphold America’s legacy as a country that welcomes refugees. Many seem to have forgotten it.

The Global Refugee Crisis: How We Can Help

In honor of World Refugee Day this month, you can send a powerful message to Congress by following these two simple steps:

  1. Print this beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty and fill it out.
  2. Mail it to your Member of Congress. A directory of addresses can be found here. (If you are not sure who your Member of Congress is, you can use this link.)
  3. Share this sample post on Facebook and/or Twitter: I just told my elected representative to support welcome for refugees. Join me! hias.org/statue-of-liberty #JewsForRefugees via @HIASrefugees

There are other ways you can help. According to HIAS, you can:

  • STAY INFORMED on the latest developments in the global refugee crisis by receiving HIAS’ email updates. Sign-up now.
  • TAKE ACTION Sign their most recent petition speaking out against the deportations of Central American refugees, and advocating for their protection.
  • ATTEND AN EVENT Learn more about the refugee crisis at a HIAS event. Visit this page to find out when they’ll be in your area.
  • VOLUNTEER with refugees and asylum seekers in your own city. Start by completing this form and HIAS will contact you with more information.
  • INVOLVE YOUR COMMUNITY: Use their “How Congregations and Communities Can Help” guide to learn more about how to involve your community in the Jewish response to the refugee crisis.
  • ACCESS RESOURCES about the refugee crisis on our Resource Page, including fact sheets and Jewish texts.
  • DONATE to HIAS – Your donations help to assist refugees around the world.

The need for all of us to raise our voices on behalf of refugees is critical. Let’s do this. We can do this.

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