BJ Refugee & Immigration Committee


We Were Strangers Once: The Jewish Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

There are more refugees and displaced persons in the world today than at any time since World War II. Conflict and persecution is driving millions from their homes, leaving them stateless and vulnerable. BJ has been researching ways for us as a community to respond to this crisis. Through a partnership with HIAS, and emerging relationships with other organizations, we are educating our community about this issue and developing opportunities to volunteer, advocate, and raise our Jewish voice.

Check out Rabbi Roly Matalon’s Op-Ed in the Jewish Week Entitled Open the Gates for Refugees

Listen to the Educational Forum on the Global refugee Crisis – May 31, 2016


Join us as we continue our momentum and build on our successful events and coalition building. R.S.V.P. to Elaine or Sandy.

To get involved in the BJ Refugee Committee, please contact co-chairs Elaine Klein, Sandy Cheiten, and Susan Thal.

Past events:


June 26, 2016: BJ joined the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees and the Joint Distribution Committee on their collaboration with Heart to Heart International to support the urgent need for humanitarian supplies to aid Syrian refugees. Over 600 volunteers from all faith communities assembled more than 7,500 emergency hygiene kits to be distributed to Syrian refugees.

May 31, 2016: BJ hosted an educational forum with Congressman Jerrold Nadler; Anwen Hughes, Deputy Legal Director, Human Rights First; and Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS.

October 24, 2016: BJ hosted HIAS staff members Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President for Community Engagement, and Winnie Gacheru, Director of Psychosocial Programs at HIAS Kenya, who spoke about the global refugee crisis and how Jewish communities can respond to today’s pressing needs.

If you missed the HIAS speakers at services, you can hear Winnie Gacheru speak about her work here.

October 19, 2016: we launched an English language tutoring pilot program in partnership with the English Speaking Union. It was initiated by the BJ Refugee Committee to help people make the transition to life in our country. The pilot will run each Sunday from October 30-December 18, 10:00AM-12:00PM (except for Thanksgiving weekend). Based on how the pilot goes, we may continue the program in 2017. This pilot is for BJ members only with the hope to expand to the greater community.

November 10, 2016: we hosted a very successful Attorney Training Session for Pro Bono Work to Aid Asylum Seekers. You can use your legal skills to help individuals seeking asylum or other humanitarian protection in the U.S. BJ’s Refugee Committee seeks attorneys who are interested in working in teams or individually on pro bono asylum cases for HIAS, BJ’s principal partner in answering the call to respond to the global crisis of displaced people. Each volunteer will be matched with an experienced HIAS mentor.

15095601_373439833000136_6743332350516188328_nNovember 15, 2016: the community gathered at an event entitled, Immigrants and Refugees in America and New York: The Political and Moral Landscape Today. Hosted by the Micah Faith Table Immigration Committee in partnership with BJ’s Refugee Committee, the evening included a post-election overview, a presentation on NYC refugee initiatives, and a panel of religiously diverse faith leaders. The post-election overview was presented by Patrick Young, Esq., immigration attorney and Hofstra University law professor. Six faith leaders: Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, Rev. Mark Hallinan, S.J.; Daiken Nelson, Sensei; Mohan Ramaswammy, and Sarah Sayeed shared reflections on the moral obligation to promote the reform of America’s immigration and refugee laws. Moderator: Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of NY. Overview by Laurie Davidson, Organizing Director of Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.