On Sunday afternoon, February 12, about 275 people attended a program to support those seeking refuge in the U.S. and in opposition to current government efforts to ban or hinder refugees. The event was one of seventeen coordinated events held throughout the U.S. as part of a National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees organized by HIAS. The attendees were from Solel and at least 26 other congregations and two churches.

Alice Kohn, VP of Social Justice, moderated the program. She called first on Rabbi Moffic, who spoke on the Jewish values and texts which command us as Jews to support the stranger in our midst and, in particular, refugees who are fleeing to our country to escape torture or death.

Then Congressman Brad Schneider of the 10th District spoke and responded to questions touching on both our Jewish values and American values as well as the political landscape.

We heard next from two former refugees from Ukraine, Julia Bibkova and Leonard Mogul. They spoke about their experiences and the need for former refugees to support those who are seeking to enter the U.S. today.

Our final speaker was Jessica Schaffer, Director of HIAS Chicago, which works to settle and support refugees in the Chicago area. Jessica explained the work of HIAS and what congregations are doing to sponsor and assist new refugees in the Chicago area.

During the final call to action by Alan Greene, we announced that $1800 is being donated to HIAS Chicago from Solel’s Human Needs Fund.

The event was organized by Alan Greene and Alice Kohn with assistance from Marcia Balonick, Bob Kohn, Marcy Kirshenbaum, Michael Ebner, Michael Levin, Diane Resnick, Carol Greene, and Sharon Karp.

Solel is seeking to sponsor a refugee family. We will be letting congregants know about our progress on that front and about other opportunities to assist new refugees. We must continue to resist government efforts to hinder or prevent refugees from entering the U.S. and ensure that our country’s doors remain open.

To learn more about what is happening locally and nationally, go to HIASChicago.org and HIAS.org.

There is another opportunity to help through the Highland Park-Highwood Legal Aid Clinic. Whether you are a lawyer or non-lawyer, the Clinic is seeking help in its representation of immigrants and is offering training. You can contact the Clinic at (847)926-1867 or info@hphlegalaid.org. Susan Shulman, a member of Solel, is the Executive Director of the Clinic and can be reached at sshulman@hphlegalaid.org.

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