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Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice

Our Virtual Annual Refugee Backpack Drive was a Great Success!


Welcoming the stranger is a cornerstone of Judea Reform Congregation’s social action values. Our congregants have beautifully risen to the challenge of helping school age newly arrived refugee children get ready for school in style for their first year in our local public schools. This year, due to the COVID pandemic and the historically restrictive immigration policies, we pivoted our annual back-to-school backpack drive for refugee children with our longstanding partner agency CWS (Church World Service of Durham). CWS expressed that many refugee and immigrant families and children still need our help--now more than ever--to help them prepare for online and unknown school scenarios. 

Over 40 families generously contributed $4,435, which we donated to our resettlement partner CWS-Durham to support the educational needs of refugee and immigrant families struggling with access to learning and basic living expenses as the pandemic continues to cause economic devastation for low income, immigrant families. Our collective donation represents the equivalent of providing:

  • 12 weeks of food for a family with school children
  • 7 months of wireless internet service for two families with online students
  • 9 graphing calculators for Durham high school students
  • essentials to resupply school “backpacks” for 12 middle school and 15 elementary school children.

In past years, Judea Reform congregants and friends have generously and enthusiastically donated backpacks, calculators, notebooks, essential school supplies and back-to-school store gift cards for newly arrived refugee children entering their first year in our public schools. In 2020, as we shifted our annual materials drive to on-line monetary donations, Judea Reform families and friends once again rose to the challenge and made our “virtual backpack” back-to-school support for refugee and immigrant school children a tremendous success! 

Todah Rabah Judea Reform Congregation!

For more information on this project email


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

JRC’s Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Justice Initiative 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 sister 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 subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless. -Deuteronomy 24:17


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 last June) 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.

If you can, please consider making a contribution to the Immigrant Solidarity Fund administered by CWS Durham. 

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

Please join us in demanding action to protect detained immigrants at Stewart Detention Center by signing this petition and spreading the word. And sign up here for monthly updates and occasional advocacy alerts.

Learn more and share more - Aprende mas y comparte mas! Our upcoming education and engagement programs are going virtual this summer with a three-part grant funded webinar series. This series will offer an excellent opportunity for in-depth learning and expert analysis on the harsh and unjust realities of immigrant detention centers, labor issues, and why we say “Never Again!”  Join us and to hear from leaders of organizations  that we regularly volunteer with and fundraise for.To learn more about this dynamic program made possible by a grant from the  Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative, co-sponsorship with JRC’s Adult Education Committee, and collaboration with many community partners, email us and put RRIJ panel in the subject line.

More about JRC’s Refugee Resettlement & Immigrant Justice

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

Our community partnerships are integral to our commitment and our work!

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

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

Family separation moral state of emergency

Moral Emergency: As crying children are taken from their parents’ arms, the American Jewish community must not remain silent.

To those who are targeted by the cruel policies of the present administration, know that the Jewish community hears your cries. We will take risks to support you, and we will demand that our nation’s leaders take action. We will not abide the claim that people didn’t know or understand the extent of your suffering; we will not allow your torment to be in vain. Jewish leaders have declared a Moral Emergency. Stand with immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, with the children, and with their parents. Join in declaring: Not here. Not now. Not in our name. Individuals sign on here.

Wed, October 21 2020 3 Cheshvan 5781