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Refugee Shabbat 2021

On March 5 & 6, 2021, hundreds of synagogues and thousands of individuals across the United States and around the world will be raising their voices in support of refugees and asylum seekers. The Union for Reform Judaism is a co-sponsor of HIAS’ Refugee Shabbat, during which Reform Jews in the United States and around the world take action for refugees. We are witnessing one of the largest humanitarian crises in human history, with more than 80 million people worldwide fleeing their homes due to persecution and violence. Over Shabbat the Jewish community will dedicate sacred time and space to refugees and asylum seekers.


Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer will join us at Judea Reform’s Virtual Shabbat Service

Friday, March 5 at 6:00pm
Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer is the Rabbi-in-Residence at HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish refugee resettlement agency. She develops materials, resources, and programs that educate American Jews about refugee issues, connecting the plight of contemporary refugees to Jewish values and history, and she travels around the United States teaching and speaking about the global refugee crisis. A graduate of Columbia University, Rabbi Meyer was ordained by HUC-JIR in New York. Before joining HIAS, Rabbi Meyer served as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. Her writing and commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Mashable, The Forward, and The New York Daily News, and she is the author of an essay that appears in the book Seven Days, Many Voices: Insights Into the Biblical Story of Creation.

Refugee Shabbat takeout dinners from Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe 

Place your order by Thursday, March 4 at 11:00pm
Pickup Friday,  March 5 between 4:00-5:00pm at Judea Reform or at Vimala’s

We are delighted to have Vimala’s offer our congregation a healthy, delicious 4 course meal for Refugee Shabbat. For $20.00 per meal you will have your choice of entree Chicken Curry, Vegan Vegetable Curry, or Vegetarian Saag Paneer (a savory spinach and cheese dish). Each meal will be accompanied by chapati bread with a chutney sampler, dal (lentil soup), rice, and raita (yogurt sauce), and completed with a tasty dessert.
Vimala Rajendran has been cooking in the south since 1985. She is the chef and founder of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café in downtown Chapel Hill which brings home cooked Indian flavors from her home state of Kerala. A longtime activist for progressive causes—including environmental justice, grassroots media, farm and restaurant-worker rights—Vimala believes that delicious, wholesome food is a human right. With the business motto of “Vimala cooks, everyone eats,” no one is ever turned away at her restaurant.
Dietary information: All of Vimala’s dishes are free of soy, corn, tree nuts, peanuts, peanut oil and casein. Dishes are mildly spiced for all palates, with vegan and gluten-free options. ORDER HERE! If you have any questions about ordering and payment, please email Juliet at jjensen@judeareform.


Worship, Learn, and Calls to Action during Refugee Shabbat


  • Refugee Shabbat Service at Judea Reform, Friday, March 5 at 6:00pm. Rabbi Matt Soffer welcomes special guest Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, the Rabbi in Residence at HIAS, at our weekly online services. Join us on our website or Facebook.
  • Havdalah with HIAS, Saturday, March 6 at 8:00pm. Come together with hundreds of fellow refugee advocates and activists across the globe to send out Shabbat with a joyful havdalah led by HIAS Rabbi-in-Residence Rachel Grant Meyer, Rabbi Yosef Goldman, and Rabbi Annie Lewis. And enjoy a live performance with the spiritual folk-rock show REVIVAL. RSVP here!


  • Global Jewish Movement for Refugees, Sunday, March 7 at 1:30pm. This international educational program will be held on Zoom. We will hear from colleagues at HIAS and other organizations working in collaboration with Jewish communities in Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the United States in support of and in solidarity with displaced people, and explore how the emergent global Jewish movement for refugees is evolving. Register here
  • Stay tuned for upcoming workshops in March with Carolina Jews for Justice.

Call to Action 

  • Sign the Welcome letter to David Price who will be invited to speak to our congregation in April about the Federal Government’s 2021 Refugee Resettlement Program. More info and link to sign here
  • March & April donations to JRC’s Tzedakah Box will go directly to organizations that are providing food and nutritional support to immigrants and refugees who are not eligible for government aid or programs. Donate here.
  • Stay in touch with Judea Reform’s Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice Committee in various direct service, advocacy, and educational efforts throughout the year with our many local and national community partners.

For questions or more information please email

Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice

Recent Committee News

The Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice (RRIJ) was awarded a second mini-grant award from The Gilbert & Eleanor Kraus Initiative at the URJ's Religious Action Center. The mini-grant award of $4,000 for supportive educational programs for immigrant school age children and their families will go directly to support the following local programs in 2021:

  • Church World Service: to build the Immigrant Solidarity Fund for families with school age children who are affected by detention or deportation and the Covid crisis.
  • La Semilla: to support a learning space for high school students and/or food distribution in Durham.  
  • Student U: to support the work of translation services and bilingual advocacy for students and their families.

You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless.
-Deuteronomy 24:17


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


Five Things You Can Do:

  1. USE YOUR VOICE: Call your Representative and ask them to take action to protect immigrants in detention centers or release them. Staff and detainees at Stewart Detention Center (where several Judea members visited in June 2019) have tested positive for COVID-19. Detainees are not able to practice social distancing or maintain hygiene (soap is not provided, for example). Medically vulnerable immigrants should be released immediately. Find YOUR representative.
  2. CONTRIBUTE: If you can, please consider making a contribution to the Immigrant Solidarity Fund administered by CWS Durham. 
  3. VOLUNTEER: Recently arrived refugees are in need of English tutors/conversation partners. You can volunteer from the comfort of your home to tutor using a pre-set curriculum and the WhatsApp messaging application. Contact CWS Durham’s Volunteer Coordinator Sina Naseri for more information. For other volunteer opportunities email
  4. ADVOCATE: Our community partnerships are integral to our commitment and our work! Please join us in demanding action to protect detained immigrants, people seeking asylum and refugees.  Learn more from our partner organizations:


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 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. 

In 2020 our committee was awarded a mini-grant 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, through Educational panel discussions and webinars with our partner organizations and leading advocates for social justice for immigrants and refugees.

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

Wed, March 3 2021 19 Adar 5781