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Dear Friend,

As 2016 winds down there are many unanswered questions about what refugee resettlement will look like in the year(s) to come. What we do know is that now more than ever, the American Jewish community must come together to raise a loud, unified moral voice in support of the U.S. Refugee Admissions program and a strong U.S. response to the global refugee crisis.

The Jewish movement for and in solidarity with refugees is vibrant. Congregations around the country are providing direct support to refugees and letting them know they are welcome in their communities. This is essential work, and yet it is not an opportunity that is available to all. Many are also involved in advocacy, which is especially critical in times like these. This newsletter includes several advocacy actions and the “Dispatches from the Field” section highlights ways to maximize your congregation’s power and influence by joining with others.

Please share this newsletter with your committee members and friends and feel free to post sections in your synagogue newsletters. As always, if HIAS can be of help as your congregation identifies the best way to take action, please be in touch.

In solidarity,


  • Add your name to our welcome note to refugees telling them that they are welcome in our communities. Thousands have signed and we will be delivering copies to recently resettled refugees across the country in January.

  • Listen to last week’s post-election briefing call so you can have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips.

  • Call your elected officials to tell them that you support refugees and urge them to do the same. Click here for a script and instructions.

  • Join us in DC! We are planning events in the nation’s capital over inauguration weekend. Sign up to be informed about details.

  • Sign a National Rabbinic Letter in support of refugees.  Or if you are not a Rabbi, encourage the leadership of your community to sign on.

  • Inspire your community to take action together by: creating a public expression of Jewish communal support for refugees, such as an event or action; circulating HIAS’ petitions and action alerts; planning a phone-banking or letter-writing night; writing letters-to-the-editor about refugees; seeking local/Jewish media for the synagogue’s involvement in the response to the refugee crisis; and joining HIAS’ social media efforts by tweeting and posting content about refugees. HIAS is eager to work with you on creative ideas to demonstrate your support for refugees.

  • Watch your inboxes in early 2017 for additional targeted actions to share with your congregations, including a major advocacy campaign in February, and resources on local sanctuary and welcome resolutions.


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.


New Resources: 

  • Hanukkah Reading for Refugees: Bring the stories of the world’s refugees – people who have miraculously triumphed over violence and persecution – into your celebrations with this Al Ha’Nisim reading to include as you kindle the Hanukkah menorah. 

General Resources:
  • HIAS has many additional resources including FAQs, Myths and Facts about Syrian Refugee Resettlement, Refugee Torah, and How Congregations Can Respond to the Refugee Crisis. Peruse them here.


HIAS, the world's oldest, and only Jewish, refugee organization, works in 11 countries across five continents to ensure that refugees and displaced persons can live in safety and with dignity. Once, we helped refugees because they were Jewish. Today we help refugees because we are Jewish.

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