DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD
One of the most significant ways synagogues can amplify HIAS’ national advocacy messaging is by developing an ongoing relationship with their Member of Congress. Last spring a group of six Manhattan synagogues organized a meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer in advance of September’s historic UN summit for refugees and migrants. HIAS staff helped the group prepare with talking points and other guidance.
Since then, the coalition has expanded to 12 synagogues and has organized itself around coordinating advocacy action, carrying out research, disseminating information about the refugee crisis, and exploring service opportunities. The group has been energized by the collective impact of their work, and now meets regularly. They are currently organizing another meeting with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to urge her to oppose any legislation that restricts resettlement or funding for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in general and/or for any specific ethnic or religious group. In our current political climate, it is critical that even supportive legislators hear from their constituents about prioritizing the safety and dignity of refugees. We have seen that an organized Jewish voice in support for refugees helps gain attention and can play a positive role in shaping local and national refugee policy.
HIAS is gearing up to support congregations across the country to do similar targeted in-district meetings throughout the month of February. We’ll be sending more information about this soon.