The mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, literally the "bringing in of strangers," extending ourselves and welcoming others, is a central value of Judaism and one that we practice with warm hearts at Folkshul: on the holiday of Sukkot, we welcome new families into our community; at our Soup Kitchen event, we collectively make and share a meal, encouraging others to join us as we raise money for those in need. 

 

And in studying the theme of Immigration, we recognize that we were once strangers ourselves in this country and unwelcome in many places around the world. In the words of the poet Emma Lazarus, we were the “tired,” the “poor,” the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The Statue of Liberty indeed lifted her lamp for us and, despite many hardships and obstacles along the way, we have made great strides in this country.

 

However, we also recognize that this was not always the case, such as in 1939 when 937 Jewish refugees on the S.S. St Louis were NOT permitted in to enter the US and were turned back to Europe, many to meet their deaths in concentration camps. This tragic decision was made in a political climate of deep fear, suspicion and anti-Semitism. 

 

Today we are hearing similar opposition to welcoming refugees who are escaping war and horrific persecution in their homelands.  They are victims, seeking such mundane treasures as safety, a better life, and opportunity – just as our families and others did in years past. 

 

Folkshul stands with numerous organizations and individuals, religious and secular alike, to urge our elected officials to welcome those refugees who meet the complex and stringent requirements of the UNHCR and our national refugee resettlement program. 

 

Jewish Children's Folkshul and Adult Community encourages its members to take action to make the lives of new immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds better and safer. Here are some links that will help you find the right action for your family:

 

http://www.hias.org 

http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c344.html

http://www.unrefugees.org/where-we-work/syria/

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-09-03/5-groups-doing-important-work-help-refugees-you-may-not-have-heard 

 

 

We fervently hope that all who come here to find safety discover a country with compassion, reason, peace and a welcoming heart.   

 

Art Miron covering Si Khan's "Lady of the Harbor"