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Dear members of The Community Synagogue,

At this season of the year, we read the book of Exodus — the story of our people’s enslavement that began when the god-king Pharaoh hardening his heart to strangers (the people of Israel) who sought refuge and enriched his land. Out of this, the Torah teaches us to “love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

This year, when the United States ended its involvement in Afghanistan, some 127,000 Afghan citizens made the hard choice our ancestors did when they came to this land to find life, freedom, and opportunity. There are 10,000 of those refugees currently living at Ft. Dix in New Jersey, and the Federal government wants to move those people by February, so the need is immediate and urgent. 

In September 2021, a small group of individuals met to begin conversations about how those on the North Shore of Long Island could be supportive of the effort to resettle some of the Afghan refugees in our area. We developed a coalition comprised of the Islamic Center of Long Island, a large number of synagogues and churches, as well as other organizations (UJA-Federation of New York, American Jewish Committee-Long Island) that have been meeting in recent months to support this effort of resettlement called Upholding Humanity. The three of us are honored to represent our congregation on the steering group of this interfaith effort of welcoming.

As of early January, we have secured pledges of over $250,000. However, the cost of resettling a family (of about 4-5 individuals) for the year is about $35,000 – and our goal is to help 20 families.

We are asking for your support in two ways:

To raise funds to support 20 refugee families. This money will ensure that we can guarantee a year-long housing lease for those already in our country with little to no money, no credit history, and no U.S. work history. These funds will also support the work of our committees in acclimating these refugees to life in the United States, including supplementing food in the early months, helping with winter clothing, and providing other necessities. 

Additionally, we seek volunteers for this effort. Although the members of the Islamic Center of Long Island will take on the primary responsibility related to acculturation, other members of Upholding Humanity are being asked to help with a number of other needs, such as furnishing any housing that is secured (primarily through in-kind donations), assistance with finding employment, education (finding appropriate schools for any children in the family), healthcare (finding doctors for well visits as well as for any health issues that family members may have), and general acclimation to Long Island or Queens (from learning the public transit system to food shopping at supermarkets, etc.).  For some of our volunteers, it may be a short-term defined project such as helping to move the donated furniture into the apartment on a specified day. For others, it could be a weekly time commitment such as speaking with the family to help improve their English skills. Some volunteers may accompany the family to important appointments. Still others may take them sightseeing around New York to introduce the family to the things we love about our city. We are hoping that we can involve the children and teens in our community as well as adults. 

If you are willing to help in this effort, please:

CLICK HERE to provide monetary support.
CLICK HERE to sign up to volunteer your time.
 

Being part of the resettlement process will expose our community members to a deeply rewarding and moving experience, especially for our young people who will be given the opportunity to fully understand the importance of how our traditions seek us to be engaged in “welcoming the stranger.” 

Thank you in advance for considering this … and for whatever you can do.  As we learn in the Talmud, “one who saves a single life, saves a world.” 

Please help generously in any way possible.
 

Irwin Zeplowitz
Rabbi

Mara Silverstein
VP Social Action

Jill Rubin
Student Rabbi

                                                  

Fri, January 28 2022 26 Sh'vat 5782