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Summer Social Justice Film Series: Refugees, Immigration, Fear, and Compassion

  • July 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

  • Remote Access Only

As of July 20th, this event has been moved to a virtual-only format.

This summer, we are eager to join together in person (and virtually) to explore themes of climate change, the refugee crisis and immigration, Black culture and history, and the healing power of music. Sponsored by Panim: Social Action and Social Justice at BJ, this film series will highlight various social justice issues with relevant speakers and opportunities for conversations with community members. We hope you will join us and be inspired by the films and accompanying conversations.

Refugees, Immigration, Fear, and Compassion

With a growing number of displaced refugees in and seeking access to the United States, we will watch a series of short films and videos that highlight the struggles of those seeking refuge and entry into the United States and how we can and should respond:

  • Águilas focuses on the plight of Central Americans who are forced to make dangerous treks across the Mexican-U.S. border, and the heroes who attempt to locate those who go missing during the crossing. 
  • Melanie Nezer, Vice President of Global Public Affairs at HIAS, discusses how we can receive refugees with compassion and hold our governments accountable for protecting the vulnerable in her 2019 TED Talk.
  • Lastly, High Score, a film created by BJ member Ethan Itzkow, explores how online radicalization and extremism can spur and spread harmful conspiracy theories that target people often categorized as “other,” such as immigrants. 

After the films, we will hear from a panel of individuals working on refugee supportive services in our own community, as well as current clients of the Refugee Employment Partnership who are refugees from Afghanistan. Moderated by Rabbi Shuli Passow, this conversation will highlight the complicated systems refugees must navigate and how we can respond humanely as a country and as individuals.

  • The film screening will begin at 7:00 PM. 


To join us virtually, admission will be $5 per event for BJ members and $7 per event for non-BJ members. 

Please select virtual tickets for this event when registering. 


Shirley Abraham

Bio to come.

David Coleman

David is the Program Administrator of the Refugee Employment Partnership (REP) a role he has held since 2018.  A long-time BJ member, David was a volunteer career mentor for REP before he became administrator.  Among his responsibilities is the screening and selection of the new refugee job-search clients for REP, he also manages the organization’s relationships with local employers and works to grow the list of companies participating in the program.  David graduated from Hamilton College and has an MBA from UCLA.  Prior to joining REP, he worked for many years in marketing for media companies including NBC, CBS, and A&E. 

REP was founded in April of 2017 at BJ by congregant, Richard Fields and was part of a broader effort to address the Syrian refugee crisis. Today REP is supported jointly by BJ and Rutgers Presbyterian Church on West 73rd Street. Since its founding, the organization has facilitated more than 125 job placements for refugees and asylees, all of whom are fully authorized to work in the US.  

Elizabeth Demobrowsky

Admitted to the bar in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, and California, Elizabeth’s legal work focuses primarily on helping new and emerging social entrepreneurs. As a non-profit executive with over a decade of experience, she has helped ensure the success and safety of numerous organizations. 

Elizabeth holds a Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School where she attended night school while working full time; a Masters in Writing from the University of Warwick, UK where she received the Student Bursary Award; and a Bachelors in Psychology from Boston University where she graduated summa cum laude. Elizabeth is a member of the Administrative Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, a Board member of Advancing Jewish Professionals of Greater New York, and a volunteer attorney with the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society. Her immigration work focuses on asylum and family petitions. Elizabeth is a published poet and novelist. 

Ethan Itzkow

Ethan Itzkow is an award-winning director, filmmaker, and actor. He directed and wrote the dramedy “CASHED” (now streaming on Amazon Prime), which won awards like Audience Favorite, Best Dramatic Short, Best Cinematography, and Best Actor at festivals around the USA. He co-directed and starred in the anti-racist social thriller you are about to see, “High Score,” which screened at festivals like the Oscar Qualifying HollyShorts, Canadian Screen Award Qualifying Female Eye, and SoHo Film Festivals and won awards like Best Short, Best Thriller, Best Actor, and a Stop Hate Award.

As an actor, Ethan can be seen as Yuri in the hit Netflix series “YOU” starring Penn Badgley and he won Best Actor awards at the Chelsea and Queens World Film Festivals for his hair-raising portrayal of a burgeoning extremist in “High Score.” Ethan also teaches on-camera acting and script analysis with Broadway Asia and has worked in film production for major news networks like CNN, MSNBC, and ABC and has worked with influential figures like Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem.

Sohaila Kakar

Sohaila Kakar is a general surgeon and clinical researcher from Afghanistan. She served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Nangarhar Medical School.  As an educated professional woman, Taliban rule was a threat to her freedom and potentially to her life. During the US withdrawal in 2021, she was unable to get passage on the evacuation flights. Determined not to live under the Taliban, she managed to escape together with several family members, taking a dangerous overland route, long after the evacuation had ended. Her family eventually found their way into the US humanitarian parole program and now live in New Jersey.  She is currently seeking employment in the healthcare field here in NYC.  

Ahmad Shah

Ahmad Shah (goes by Shah), escaped Afghanistan with his wife and children in the summer of 2021, as the US backed government was falling.  He worked for 14 years as an interpreter assisting US and NATO forces in the field.  His work was stressful, physically taxing and at times dangerous. He earned many accolades from officers and was cited for bravery.  His family has been served by the resettlement efforts of both HIAS and the NW Bronx Coalition support group. Shah is working as a temporary doorman and looking for a full-time position. He lives in Yonkers. 


Remote Access Only
NY United States


B’nai Jeshurun
(212) 787-7600
View Organizer Website