refugees-are-human-beingsIn December 2015, Temple Emanuel helped to form the Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement (JCARR), a collaboration of four synagogues working together to co-sponsor refugee families arriving in our area.  Welcoming refugees is intricately connected to our Jewish tradition, our heritage, and to our recent history of being refugees and wishing there had been more people reaching out to help us.  JCARR co-sponsors refugees who come through IRIS, the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.  Refugees may come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Eritrea, Sudan, even Syria.  We will sponsor families from any country and any religion.  TE member Jean Silk serves as the Coordinator of JCARR, which is supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Anna Zonderman and Peter Stolzman are the leaders of TE’s refugee resettlement team.  Our team works with teams from Congregation Mishkan Israel, Congregation Beth-El-Keser Israel, and Congregation B’nai Jacob in task forces that deal with Housing, Transportation, Education and Cultural Orientation, Healthcare, Employment, Legal Services, Fund Raising and Finances.

For each refugee family we sponsor, we need to raise at least $ 5,000 to help subsidize rent and other necessities for half a year, after which families are expected to be independent. Volunteers start working before a new family arrives.  They find affordable housing, furnish and supply the home, and collect clothing.  JCARR volunteers meet the new families at the airport, offer them a warm welcome, and provide a culturally appropriate, meal upon their arrival.  They help them enroll in English classes, register children for school, learn to use public transportation, navigate the American health care system, and find jobs.  In some cases, sponsors obtain a donated car for refugees who know how to drive and are able to get a license.  Our congregations help refugees adjust to day-to-day life in our culture by providing cultural orientation and organizing social events that help us get to know each other.  As we work through challenges in cross-cultural communication, as we resolve problems that arise, as we share social experiences together, we come to understand and appreciate our differences and to recognize our commonalities, and long-lasting friendships are often the result!

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