Saskatoon Jewish congregation & Islamic association join to sponsor Syrian refugee family

Congregation Agudas Israel

Saskatoon’s The Star Phoenix has a very uplifting article on the joint efforts of the Congregation Agudas Israel and the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to resettle in Saskatchewan, Canada. The two organizations have formed the Children of Abraham Refugee Sponsors of Saskatoon to work through the private sponsorship process.

Omaer Jamil, president of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan, is quoted as saying;

“One of the things is to break down the stereotypical idea of Muslims and Jews not being able to get along,” he said.

“The other is to help bring in a Syrian family — it’s just a good thing to do, a benefit for everybody involved. There are people suffering. If we can help them in any way, we’d love to do it.”

Harold Schiffman, president of Congregation Agudas Israel mentions past history, and the difficulty some European Jews had in seeking refuge in Canada during the Second World War.

“From a personal perspective, one of the difficult things is, I know there were opportunities for more Jews to come to Canada during the Mackenzie King era and some boats were turned away. I don’t want to see that sort of thing happen again,”

To read the entire article click here.

2016-01-12T07:36:29+00:00 January 12th, 2016|

Israeli Defense Forces’ medical treatment of wounded Syrians

Photo by Joshua Mitnick for the Toronto Star.

Photo by Joshua Mitnick for the Toronto Star.

The Toronto Star’s Joshua Mitnick has an intriguing firsthand look at the Israeli Defense Forces’ medical assistance to Syrians wounded in the conflict. The article describes the initial apprehension many of the wounded Syrians have at being treated by a medics from an “enemy” state. Coordination of the transfer of wounded is done with groups opposed to the Syrian regime.

“We know them from wars. They are an enemy country. But, like every country, you have to distinguish between extremists and you have the innocent,” said [IDF] Sgt. First Class Jonathan Achituv.

Of particular interest is the case of “Ahmed”, a former regime soldier so previously die-hard, he had a tattoo of deceased president Hafez Assad on his chest.

“I expected to see terrible things. I expected disgusting treatment,” said Ahmed, who declined to give his real name because getting treatment in Israel could put him at risk back in Syria. “The (soldiers) said, don’t worry, we will take care of you and we’ll fix your hand.”

To read the entire article click here.

2016-01-12T06:50:06+00:00 January 12th, 2016|

Israeli volunteers aiding Syrian refugees in Serbia

natanHaaretz has an article on the efforts the Natan International Humanitarian Aid organization’s Israeli volunteers who are providing medical aid and assistance to Syrian refugees in Serbia. The article also details the many ways the refugees are exploited by unscrupulous con-men and taxi drivers on their way across Serbia.

After enduring days of hardships and danger, the refugees are all to happy to finally met sympathetic aid workers who speak their language, an advantage volunteers from Israel have when interacting with refugees from the Middle East.

“It’s as if you are rescuing them from a hole in the ground,” says Kafa Joubran, an Israeli Arab social worker for Kafr Rameh, in the Galilee. “In a moment, they feel secure, a bit of the stability that they once had returns.  We translate for them, help them with the paperwork, and that helps them a lot.”

To read the entire article click here.

2016-01-09T21:10:20+00:00 January 9th, 2016|

Vancouver based Temple Sholom sponsoring two Syrian refugee families

temple-sholom-vancouver_CBC News has an article on the efforts of Vancouver based Sholom Temple, a Jewish congregation, to sponsor two Syrian refugee families to resettle in Canada. To date members of the congregation have raised over CND $40,000 towards the sponsorship effort.

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz is quoted in the article;

It says 36 times in the Bible in the Old Testament to love the stranger…You don’t repeat something 36 times in the Bible unless it’s really, really important, and this is our obligation to see ourselves as them and to do what we can to save lives

While acknowledging that some members of the congregation had concerns about the sponsorship effort, considering the decades of hostilities between Israel and Syria, and the wide prevalence of antisemitism in the Middle East, Rabbi Moskovitz expressed his hope that the “effort will also work towards peace between Jews and Syrians.”

One by one, family by family, we can build bridges of understanding and hopefully reduce, at least on the micro scale, the conflict between the peoples

To read the entire article, click here.

2016-01-08T21:49:36+00:00 January 8th, 2016|

Maryland based HIAS’ advocacy for the refugee program

hias

HIAS, a Jewish refugee aid agency based in Maryland, USA, has launched a campaign to lobby members of the US Congress to reject proposed restrictions on the refugee program.

Members of the public are encouraged to call their senators and members of congress to reject current proposals to curtail or reduce the scope of the program that accepts refugees into the USA.

As a rule, refugees are victims of terrorism, not perpetrators of terrorism. It is imperative that we are able to tell the difference and help those who have suffered. The U.S. government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States.

HIAS was established in 1881 to lend assistance to Jews fleeing persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. Over the last 134 years the scope of its activities has expanded to include helping refugees from Southeast Asia, Iran and Bosnia.

2016-01-07T22:17:43+00:00 January 7th, 2016|

As Republicans Reject Syrian Refugees, US Jewish Community Responds With Solidarity, Support

As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to be exploited by politicians in the USA, the International Business Times ran an article reporting that many American Jewish community leaders have been calling on the country’s elected officials to infact do more, and not less, for those fleeing the war in Syria.

…for many Americans Jews, the idea of turning away people in need potentially because of their religion has sent an alarming message. The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that works to protect civil rights for Jews and other minorities, issued a statement Tuesday condemning the governors who said they would reject Syrian refugees.

“The people fleeing Syria are fleeing the same types of terrorists that did these attacks in France last week,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of ADL said Wednesday. “We need to have effective screenings for refugees, we need to look at the multi-layered process to make sure it works. But ADL works on behalf of all people regardless of how they look, where they’re from, who they love. The idea of discriminating against refugees based on their faith strikes us as very un-American.”

Georgette Bennett, founder of the Multifaith Alliance For Syrian Refugees, noted the very real dangers of leaving young children in the refugee camps open to the very extremism that has ravaged so much of the Middle East.

Read the entire article here

2016-01-06T10:27:22+00:00 January 6th, 2016|

IsraAID Israeli volunteers helping refugees in Lesbos, Greece

The Times of Israel has an excellent article by Gavin Rabinowitz on the aid work being done in Greece, by Israeli volunteers from the tireless IsraAID NGO. Volunteers from the organization have been on the ground on the island of Lesbos, providing assistance and medical aid to refugees from countries traditionally hostile to Israel.

While IsraAID has plenty of experience in disaster relief and assistance in 31 countries — from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa — this mission presents a unique challenge: The beneficiaries come from countries that are traditionally hostile, or even officially still at war, with Israel.

Read the entire article here.

2016-01-06T06:01:42+00:00 January 6th, 2016|

Actor Baron Cohen and wife give $1m for Syrian refugees

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen (photo credit Joella Marano)

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen (photo credit Joella Marano)

Israeli news outlet i24 News reported on 27th December 2015 that British actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher had donated USD $1 million in medical aid to help Syrian refugees in northern Syria and neighboring countries.

Half a million dollars was donated to Save the Children to pay for vaccinations, and another half a million dollars was donated to the International Rescue Committee to assist Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

David Miliband, currently the head of of the IRC, was quoted as  calling their gift a “great expression of humanity.”

Read the entire article here.

2016-01-06T05:33:34+00:00 January 6th, 2016|

New Jersey Synagogue Invites Syrian Refugees to Chinese Dinner on Christmas

Published by Forward.com

A New Jersey synagogue had recently arrived Syrian refugees join them for what has become Jewish tradition on Christmas: Chinese Food.

“As Jews, we all come from refugee families and we know in our bones what it’s like to have hateful rhetoric directed toward us,” said Rabbi Tepperman of Montclair N.J.’s Bnai Keshet, whose members organized the gathering for 10 families, all Muslim. “Many of our parents were Holocaust refugees.”

“Members of our congregation and people throughout the Jewish community have really felt called to help the refugees,” Tepperman told NJ.com.

The Friday evening event coincided with the Sabbath and began with started with blessings over candles and challah bread, the news site reported.

Read the entire article here

2016-01-06T02:20:32+00:00 January 6th, 2016|
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