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Refugee Resettlement Project

Led by Rabbi Kaiman’s vision as expressed in his sermon on Rosh Hashanah, Shearith Israel is sponsoring a refugee family in Atlanta in partnership with New American Pathways.

We are pleased to have welcomed Etleni, Mohammed, Hassna and Ahaw of Ethiopia, who arrived in late April, 2018, via Eritrea!

An intensive organizing effort, to help the family settle in and become oriented to life in the U.S, is currently underway and will continue through summer and fall 2018.

After just one month, the Ahaw & Ibrahim family is settling into their new home in Stone Mountain, meeting their neighbors, and learning how to use their stove, laundry, shower, etc. Recent weeks were spent with New American Pathways staff — getting health screenings, filing for benefits, receiving a cultural orientation, and registering for school. Thanks to the generosity of Shearith members, we have been able to:

  • Raise more than the required $3,000 to sponsor the family
  • Set up their 2-bedroom apartment with donations of furniture and many essential household items
  • Greet the family when they arrived at Hartsfield Jackson Airport after a grueling journey from Eritrea
  • Stock their refrigerator, freezer and pantry with ample food for many days
  • Provide a hot meal for their first night, with enough to spill over into several more meals
  • Spend a number of afternoons just visiting – doing art projects, playing soccer, helping with letters and numbers

Ahaw (the youngest son) and Hassna (the daughter) were enrolled in nearby schools and attended for a few days until summer break. They may be participating in summer activities sponsored by New American Pathways. Efforts are also underway to help Etleni (the mom) and Mohammed (the oldest son) find employment.

The family arrived knowing no English, so CSI members have begun helping teach letters, numbers, basic words and phrases, and will continue to tutor the family in English.

Funds for Transportation, Groceries & Miscellaneous Expenses:

Thanks to the generosity of our membership, the goal of raising the $3,000 required by New American Pathways has been accomplished! These initial funds support the organization’s operational costs, allow the staff to provide individualized case management and employment services that will help the family become self-sufficient. They also go toward an emergency rent fund to assist families that are not yet self-sufficient at the end of 6 months. Additional donations are still needed, however, to cover expenses related to household set-up, transportation, groceries, toys and clothes, etc.

Please help provide these necessary expenses today:

Donate to the Refugee Resettlement Project

To donate to the Refugee Resettlement Project, visit the link above and select "Refugee Funding" from the drop-down menu.

Household Items/ Furniture Donations & More: 

Would you like to help be a part of this process and assist the refugee family? Let us know how you’d like to lend a hand and participate in this initiative by completing the following volunteer form and see the additional calls for action below.


Assisting a Refugee Family: Volunteer Form

Companionship Group

A new committee is forming for members who indicated an interest in spending time with the family on enjoyable outings (such as a soccer match, a nearby park or Stone Mountain, a neighborhood festival). They also need transport and assistance for weekly trips to the grocery store. This “Companionship” group will meet at Shearith Israel on Monday, June 4, at 7:30pm, to learn more and discuss how this effort will work. If you are interested but can’t make it, email Jenny Hirsch at or Sandy Goodman Cohn at

Additional Forms & Information:

DONATIONS: Can you donate household items for the refugee family? A new form will be posted shortly with a list of the furniture and household items we still need to collect. At that time, please sign up to donate for this great cause!

If you have made a donation, please fill out the Donation of Goods Form. Either complete the form, scan it and email it to or, if it’s easier, feel free to drop the form off at the CSI office. Attach any receipts and keep a copy for your records.

VOLUNTEER TIME FORM: New American Pathways requires that we keep track of our volunteer time spent supporting the refugee family. If you have spent time on this project, please fill out the Volunteer Time Sheet. Complete the form, scan it and email it to or drop it off at the CSI office. If you are a regular volunteer, feel free to send this in at the end of each month. Attach any receipts and keep a copy for your records.

BACKGROUND CHECK FORM: Volunteers who work closely with the refugee family will be required to pass a background check. Please complete the Background Check Form and submit in-person to the Synagogue office.

BOOK DISCUSSION: We want to learn as well as act – and will be holding a CSI Book Discussion on Outcasts United. This book tells the story of the Fugees, a refugee youth soccer team in Clarkston – the same community we’ll be working in now. The book is appropriate for all ages and should be especially interesting to teenagers and adults. Book discussion date is TBD. We encourage congregants and friends to read the book and keep an eye out in Shearith Israel’s weekly newsletter.

To learn more about the refugee community in Clarkston, watch two short video episodes from the PBS series “America By the Numbers”.  Visit the PBS site here and select the episodes entitled “Mainstream, USA” and “Politics of the New South”.

PLANNING COMMITTEE: The following congregants will serve as the leaders and point-people for this program. If you’d like to be in touch with the planning committee, please email Sandy Goodman Cohn at or Hillary Kates at

For an update on the Planning Committee’s work, click here.

Susan Baker

I have lived in Druid Hills since 1983, where I raised 3 children in the Reform tradition at the Temple. Now an empty nester, I joined Shearith Israel 2 years ago and helped to re-establish CSI as a weekly pick-up spot for delicious vegetables from the Riverview Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I am also on the board of the Decatur Y, where I chair the program committee, and the managing editor of the Druid Hills News. As a former CDC employee and current public health consultant, I am honored to be able to support refugee families get acclimated and settled into our community. (Housing and Record-keeping Committees)

Dana Geller

I’m originally from New Jersey, but have lived on and off in Atlanta for 20 years. I have spent my career teaching English as second language in a variety of settings, and currently work as the curriculum coordinator for a family literacy program serving refugee women and children in Clarkston. I have prior experience as a family mentor and co-sponsor for newly arrived families. I live in Kirkwood with my husband, Mike, and our daughters, Ruth and Diana.  I’m thrilled that Rabbi Kaiman and the congregation has decided to embark on the very demanding, yet incredibly rewarding, work of refugee resettlement. (Education Committee)

Sandy Goodman Cohn

I moved to Atlanta nearly 2 years ago and live in Decatur, with my husband Marc, and our two children. As a former public health professional, I have always been driven by working with underserved populations and have seen the positive results from hands-on community involvement.  My family has had the opportunity to live abroad and while doing so, we gained perspective on how other countries have benefited from an immigrant rich and diverse population.  I am excited by this opportunity and look forward to having my family be involved in this important work. (Community Liaison & Reception Committees)

Jennifer Hirsch

My partner, Craig Stehle, and our son, Zack Stehle Hirsch, moved to Atlanta 2.5 years ago from Chicago for a new job I had at Georgia Tech. I am a cultural anthropologist and I run a sustainable communities program at Tech. I have always been involved in social justice issues, and we had been looking into working with a refugee family in Clarkston. The opportunity to do this important work, while also getting involved in the temple, is perfect! I am honored to be part of the Planning Committee and all three of us look forward to getting to know other congregants. (Reception Committee; Coordinator)

Charlie Jaret

Cindy (my wife) and I have belonged to Shearith Israel almost 30 years, and our children, Amy and Steven, had their bat/bar mitzvah here.  We’re very glad to see our synagogue making this commitment to assist a refugee family.  As a professor in the Sociology Department at Georgia State University, some of my teaching and research focused on immigrants in the U.S. and now that I’m retired I want to help provide some “hands on” help for a refugee family trying to make Atlanta their new home. (Employment and Transportation Committees)


Hillary Kates

I was fortunate to grow up in Pensacola, Florida, and attended the same synagogue as Rabbi Kaiman. Two years ago, I moved from NYC to Atlanta to be closer to family. By chance, I reconnected with Rabbi Kaiman and have been coming to CSI ever since. While my professional experience is in corporate taxation, program coordinating and community service have been lifelong passions of mine.  Over the years, I have played an active role in the design and implementation of synagogue events and volunteer programs. I am proud of how this community has stepped up to the task, and I am excited to join the congregation in this wonderful project. (Finances Committee; Coordinator)

Hallie Ludsin

My husband, Ravi Nessman, and I came to Atlanta with our 2 kids after many years of living in the developing world. I am a human rights lawyer dedicated to trying to make our world better and have been looking for a way to involve my kids in that work. I am grateful to the synagogue for putting together a project that both contributes to the greater good and that allows my kids to participate and explore the joys of thinking beyond ourselves and our community. (Employment & Housing Committees)

Sat, September 21 2019 21 Elul 5779