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Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice

Our Work and Our Commitment

The Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Justice Committee works to make sure America remains a place which welcomes immigrants seeking safety. No less than thirty-six times the Torah commands us to be welcome, just, and inclusive of the strangers among us. 

We are committed to helping newly arriving refugees build a foundation to be successful members of our community. As part of our covenant with the world, we stand and act in solidarity with other houses of faith to protect and defend our immigrant sisters and brothers. Join us in acts of solidarity.  We are a lay-led subcommittee of the Social Action Committee.

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the Land of Egypt. -Exodus 23:9

SIGN UP HERE: to keep up with what the Refugee Resettlement Team is doing, please subscribe to our newsletter HERE

Unprecedented Levels of Need  

Ukraine, Afghanistan, US Border - we see on the nightly news that large numbers of people are fleeing for safety, leaving their families, their homes, their professions behind. Our initiative focuses efforts locally here in Durham and North Carolina. However, we partner with organizations working nationally and globally, including HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).

 

UKRAINE

Read Rabbi's Soffer's Letter to the Congregation on March 10, 2022.

HIAS has long worked in Ukraine and has an emergency response and resettlement work ongoing in Europe. Learn all about HIAS's Ukraine response here and actions you can take:
 

Share the recording: You can share the recording of an emergency HIAS briefing on humanitarian response in Ukraine.

  • Follow HIAS' work: HIAS' regularly updated Ukraine response page can be found here.

  • Advocate: Sign HIAS's message to the Biden Administration encouraging them to quickly set up resettlement pathways for Ukrainians with family in the United States.

  • Take Action: Check out and share HIAS's Take Action page and the Jews for Refugees facebook page which will be updated frequently with ways to help.

  • Donate: HIAS iscollecting donations for work in Ukraine and neighboring countries here.

AFGHANISTAN

Since the fall of the Afghan government in August 2021, over 78,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States including hundreds being resettled here in the Triangle area. 

Judea Reform Congregation is welcoming three Afghan families and helping them settle here in Durham. We are partnering with local refugee resettlement agency CWS to cosponsor two families and HIAS Welcome Circles for the third. 

Tzedakah Box March April — donations support our RRIJ Fund.

Contributions support this work and will open the possibility to welcoming a fourth family or serving as a CARE Group to support more established refugees financially and socially in their efforts towards securing meaningful work that pays a living wage, as well as strengthen our commitment to and partnership with immigrant led groups providing needed support in their communities.

Summary of Other Welcome Activities (as of Februrary, 2022)

February 22, 2022 Update

Thank you, Tashakor, Todah Rabah…

Because of you and many other donors and volunteers, since July 2021, Judea’s Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Justice Initiative has been able to do the following (in no particular order).

  • Provide back-to-school backpacks and supplies for 36 newly arrived refugee children as they started their schooling in Durham

  • Cosponsor two Afghan families comprised of 11 people with CWS, offering social and financial support for four to six months

  • Prepare to sponsor a third family of four with HIAS Welcome Circles, offering financial, social and additional support for six months

  • With Jewish for Good, furnished the first two homes (and plan to do the third)

  • Provide three months’ rental support for a family seeking asylum from Myanmar as part of an interfaith community effort led by the Oak Church in Durham

  • Shopped for and delivered groceries, personal hygiene items and a visa gift card for 35+ newly arriving Afghans and refugees from other countries (saving them collectively over $10,000 and countless staff hours for CWS Durham)

  • Co-hosted with Jewish for Good a supremely successful winter outerwear drive (people were so generous, we exceeded the ability of CWS to manage the coats and also donated to Urban Ministries, coat drives at several vaccine clinics, Manna from Heaven’s coat drive, and TROSA)

  • Volunteered weekly and contributed financially to the work at Iglesia Emanuel Presbyterian Church, packing and distributing food for 600 families per week.

  • Volunteered and contributed financially to food and vaccine drives with La Semilla.

  • Donated financial resources to El Refugio Ministry in Georgia, which provides assistance to immigrants imprisoned at Stewart Detention Center and their families (many here in the Triangle).

  • Donated to the Immigrant Solidarity Fund at CWS which provides emergency aid to families affected by detention, deportation and pandemic income loss

  • Supported Vaccine Ambassadors’ Vaccine Appreciation Card fund to provide a lift to immigrants and others, primarily people of color, in obtaining vaccines.

  • From July 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022, eighty five donors have contributed $61,689.00 to our refugee fund since July. Our March and April Tzedakah Box will be dedicated to our Refugee Fund.

Five Things You Can Do:

  1. USE YOUR VOICE: Call your Representative and ask them to take action to protect immigrants and refugees. Our monthly newsletter usually includes a call to action. Find YOUR representative.
  2. CONTRIBUTE: If you can, please consider making a contribution to our Refugee Resettlement Fund (donate to Social Action - Refugee Resettlement). We use these funds to support resettlement work, including furnishing apartments, and supporting partners in our community.
  3. VOLUNTEER: You can serve as an English tutor or conversation partner using a pre-set curriculum for recently arrived refugees and those seeking to improve their English after being here a while. For volunteer opportunities email socialaction@judeareform.org.
  4. ADVOCATE: Our community partnerships are integral to our commitment and our work! Please join us in demanding action to protect people seeking asylum, refugees, and detained immigrants.  Learn more from our partner organizations:
     

5. CONTACT AND CONNECT WITH US: 

The Eternal said to Abram, "Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father's house, to the land that I will show you".
- Genesis 12:1

 

Our Work Has Been Recognized by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism 

In 2020 our committee was awarded two mini-grants by the Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative to supplement and expand the ongoing refugee and immigrant justice educational and engagement work within our congregation and community, as well as to support local immigrant organization partners in providing nutritional supplements, emergency housing aid and vaccine distribution.

In 2017 our committee’s exemplary organizing, advocacy, fundraising and direct service social action in support of refugees and immigrants was recognized when Judea Reform Congregation was honored with the biennial Fain Award for engaging, innovative, and impactful social justice work. 

You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike: for I the LORD am your God.
- Leviticus 24:22 

Mon, August 15 2022 18 Av 5782