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SUPPORTING IMMIGRANTS, REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

Congregation Shearith Israel strives to be a welcoming community of Jewish learning and spirituality in all that we do. Our efforts to support immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are an extension of that work. Learn more about efforts underway, upcoming events and how congregants and the larger community can get involved.

Ongoing: supporting asylum seekers

In community with two local churches, Glenn Memorial UMC and Virginia-Highland Church, Congregation Shearith Israel is part of a ‘cluster’ organized by the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta. The cluster will work together on efforts that support asylum-seekers as well as organize events to learn about and advocate for immigrant justice. 

Photo from October 2019 - Volunteers from all three congregations collected supplies and assembled more than 105 hygiene kits in support of Tahirih Justice Center’s wrap-around services for their clients. Tahirih Justice Center provides a broad range of direct legal services, policy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.

 

 

Ongoing: Supporting Refugees

Congregation Shearith Israel’s Refugee Resettlement Committee launched in 2018 by sponsoring the Ahaw family in partnership with New American Pathways. Etleni (the mom), Mohammed (30-year-old son), Hassna (16-year-old daughter), and Ahaw (12-year-old son) arrived in Atlanta in April 2018 from Ethiopia. With support from many members of the congregation - including setting up their apartment, supplying them with culturally appropriate food, raising funds to provide needed supplies, helping with cultural orientation and school registration and ongoing English language tutoring, providing dental care, taking them shopping for groceries, and arranging phone and television service - the family is getting acclimated to life in Atlanta. 

Mohammed has successfully worked at a food processing plant for over a year and is the sole supporter of the family. Ahaw attends his neighborhood public school (6th grade) and is adapting well. Hassna is enrolled in a DeKalb County special needs school to help address some learning disabilities. Etleni remains at home for much of the day and is still struggling with English. 

One of the biggest challenges facing the Ahaw family has been social and linguistic isolation.  They arrived here knowing no English; moreover, very few other refugees or immigrants in Atlanta come from their home region of Ethiopia (Afar). Mohammed does speak another Ethiopian language (Amharic) and is gradually learning English at work.  Only one trained translator is available locally who speaks Amharic, Afar, and English. He has been contracted by New American Pathways to help when he can, but his services are spread very thin. Fortunately, Wegene Sediso (unofficial son of CSI congregants Melissa Fay Greene and Don Samuel) speaks Amharic and offered to help. With transportation and other support from CSI members, Wegene has gone to the Ahaw family’s apartment once a week to assist them in numerous ways (e.g., keeping up with bills, explaining and giving advice on situations they encounter, showing them how to use the apartment’s appliances and keep it clean).  

Want to make a contribution or get involved? 

  • Want to donate money? We continue to need funds to support translation services, household items and repairs, and school supplies. Our goal is to raise $5,000. Click here and select “Refugee Resettlement Fund” from the dropdown menu. 
  • Want to work with the family? Transportation is currently the highest priority - for appointments with health providers, including speech therapy for Hassna. They also need help with daily household tasks to improve the family’s safety and health (such as teaching how to store food in covered containers, wash dishes after using them, vacuuming). Fill out this interest form and let us know how you’d like to be involved.  
  • Want to contribute to the broader refugee community? New American Pathways has an ongoing need for:

1. Adult diapers - sizes M/L and Youth. View a sample of a brand purchased in the past here.

2. Pro bono physical and/or occupational therapy sessions for adult refugees with non-acute needs. Medicaid only covers services for adults if there is an acute event (such as surgery or injury) within the last 90 days. NAP has clients with more chronic conditions like old knee or back injuries, post-polio syndrome, cerebral palsy, stroke recovery, and just plain arthritis. The clients don't necessarily need weekly therapy sessions, but a pro bono session here or there would give them a chance to learn exercises and techniques to build strength and improve functioning.

Click here and indicate your specific contribution on this interest form.

For more information contact the lay leadership team:

Robin Deutsch Edwards - robin.d.edwards@gmail.com
Sandy Goodman Cohn - sandy_goodman@hotmail.com
Jennifer Hirsch - jhirsch683@gmail.com
Charlie Jaret - charlie.jaret@gmail.com
Mon, November 18 2019 20 Cheshvan 5780