To call the current political climate in the USA toxic towards refugees from the Middle East would be an understatement. With the political discourse regarding Syrian refugees currently consisting of a race between politicians to outdo one another in sheer xenophobia and fear mongering, it takes an especially brave group of people in the USA to be seen to be sympathetic to refugees.
Which makes the generosity of the Massachusetts based Jewish Community of Amherst in holding a benefit for Syrian refugees all the more remarkable. The Daily Collegian has an article on the very creative fundraising event the JCA hosted at the end of January 2016 to raise money to assist displaced Syrians.
Consisting of a musical performance and a meal of three soups based on the recipes of Barbara Massaad’s “Soup for Syria” cookbook, the event managed to raise over $5,000 dollars for humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. David Mednicoff, director of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts and a member of the JCA, noted that while the Syrian refugee crisis was the largest humanitarian disaster since World War 2, a certain degree of donor and “compassion” fatigue seemed to have set in regarding humanitarian efforts towards Syrian refugees.
In the very globalized world we live in, neither closing our minds nor our borders to the mass displacement of people will keep the problem away from us. Leaving millions of Syrians in a warzone or transitory living space is a recipe for long-term political disaster.
As the Syrian conflict drags on into its fifth year, Jewish communities the world over have time and again shown an amazing depth of compassion and generosity towards Syrian refugees, at a time when much of the world seems largely resigned to regarding the refugee crisis as unsolvable.
And the fact that the good people of the JCA opened their hearts to the plight of Syrians, in direct contrast to the prevailing mood and trend in the USA to demonize and vilify those same refugees, speaks volumes of the moral fiber, generosity and character of the Jewish community in Amherst. In dark days such as these, acts of compassion and humanity as exemplified by the members of the Jewish Community of Amherst shine all the more brightly.
To read the entire Daily Collegian article, click here.