We have focused on a wide range of issues related to immigration including education, advocacy and service.
If you are interested in helping with this effort, please contact Joy Brownstein
Our activities include:
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT INITIATIVE
We are working with five other Westchester synagogues and a local church as part of a HIAS-guided Westchester Resettlement Coalition: Sinai Free Synagogue, Woodlands Community Temple, Temple Beth Shalom, Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Shaarei Tikvah, BAS, and South Presbyterian Church
In true Bet Am Shalom style, this is a broad congregational effort. Many members have volunteered to participate in one or more of the WRC committees to help refugee families with healthcare, education, employment, housing, transportation, community connections and other essential activities. And many more members have generously donated to a specific fund to help support the family for this coming year.
We will be welcoming an Afghan family of five. We have found an apartment and made other preparations to welcome and help this family settle into their new home.
Our immigration work extends to Israel too. We are also educating ourselves and advocating to help Ethiopian Jews trying to make Aliyah to Israel but facing discrimination.
Read about our past efforts in this Reconstructing Judaism article.
Our new Director of Family Education and Engagement, Lisa Jacobs, and our Hebrew School educators are actively involved in our social action efforts incorporating immigration and racial justice activities into the Torah La’am curriculum, through lessons, activities and outside speakers. We also sponsor programs to educate congregants of all ages about a range of topics associated with immigration. Past activities have included:
- Annual speaker event, Havdalah and buffet dinner catered by local refugees. Speakers have included a Dreamer, immigration lawyers and a refugee from Afghanistan.
- Annual speaker on immigration for our post B’nai Mitzvah middle and high school students, such as a refugee teen from Iraq, HIAS, and Afghan refugee.
- Afghan cooking class taught by a local refugee from Afghanistan
Our advocacy efforts have addressed issues facing immigrants such as the Green Light bill and legal services for El Centro Hispano and voter registration.
We are currently focusing on efforts to expand and expedite access to the U.S. resettlement program for American-affiliated Afghan refugees and their families. Closer to home, we are also focusing on tenants’ rights, housing and Right to Counsel legislation in Westchester and New York State for families facing evictions due to the pandemic.
Examples of our past hands-on service activities include:
- Meals in a Jar: A multi-generational event in which we help local immigrant families by preparing 100+ “Meals in a Jar” on Martin Luther King Day.
- Mitzvah Day: Participate in tzedakah projects and advocacy work on immigration.
- Sarah Lawrence College: Prepare lunch for refugees who attend a summer camp program sponsored by the College.
- El Centro Hispano: Distribute food and clothing two Thursdays each month from 3:00 – 5:00 PM. Organization’s mission: Assist, support, and strengthen Hispanic families; help them become self-sufficient; and ease their transition into their new culture while maintaining and enriching their own. El Centro Hispano is at 346 South Lexington Avenue, White Plains.
- Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE): Coach, guide and mentor 9-12th graders. Organization’s mission: Partners work with students to ensure they are ready for, enroll in, and complete college. YPIE confronts the challenges of a low-income, urban school district by providing families with equitable access to the critical tools and services necessary for college success.