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Refugee Resettlement Update 8/18/17

This Shabbat we read parashat re’eh, in the people are told ‘see, I set before you today a blessing and a curse’. There is a grammatical inconsistency in this sentence is noteworthy. The word see is an imperative in the singular but ‘before you’ is in the plural. The classical rabbis believed that all such inconsistencies were there for a reason, to teach us a lesson. We can learn in this week during which we have seen in clear sight the deep hatred that still exists in our country and is gaining support in places of power, that we indeed must open our eyes and see. Each of us individually must awaken to the racism and hatred that is brewing in our country and collectively we must act against it.
The racism and anti-Semitism on display in Charlottesville takes place in a political climate of increasing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric. All these forms of hate are part of a dangerous fear and intolerance of the ‘other’. In order to make our country a safe and welcoming place for everyone we must each open our eyes to what is happening and together decide to act for blessing instead of for curse.
I invite you to take a small but essential act in assuring that our country remains one that is open and welcoming. Over the next six weeks President Trump, in consultation with Congress, will determine how many refugees will be allowed in during the next fiscal year. Please join me in calling on congress to insist that we welcome 75,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year.

See the full flyer with directions on how to call here.

Volunteer with Seniors!

In addition to our previous opportunities, we now have additional volunteering needs with seniors!

We are looking for someone strong to help a senior to move boxes from one room to another. It should be about 2-3 hours.

Keep checking in to see our volunteer opportunities!

Balancing Gratitude with Impatience in the time of Charlottesville

Like all of you, I was really struck by the events of this weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Madison is a college town, as is Charlottesville. We also have very passionate people who are ready to standup against anti-Semitism, islamophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia while needing to acknowledge that we have all of these within our community. I am glad that I live somewhere that it feels safe to speak out against many forms of bigotry. I know that Madison and Dane County are not perfect, but I hope that I never have to find words to explain to my children about that kind of hatred happening in our community. It was hard enough answering questions when it was 1,000 miles away.

One of my favorite blogs is Nonprofits: Absolutely Fabulous. Yesterday morning the author, Vu Le, wrote about how we somehow need to cultivate an attitude of both gratitude and impatience. Impatience is a great motivator, but it is also makes us angry, frustrated, and exhausted. Gratitude increases mental strength and helps us to sleep better (my personal favorite benefit). We really need to find a balance between the two, the balance of appreciating what we have, but also to use the energy that comes from impatience to push for change.

Typically the JSS team is not out in the streets showing its impatience. We could complain all the time about how difficult it can be for seniors to find affordable, appropriate housing or for immigrant clients without documentation to find medical care. We don’t. We use impatience when we need to advocate for a client who needs something she isn’t already getting. And mostly, our team is out there cultivating gratitude. Sometimes it is gratitude from a case worker at another agency who appreciates the tip we gave about an apartment that our client couldn’t use, but her client can. Sometimes it is the gratitude from a client who emails me “to emphasize that … JSS has an awesome social worker!” It is the knowing that we are doing right by our clients that prevent us from getting stuck in the impatient mode. And it is this gratitude that allows us to continue to help people ensure that they are getting their basic needs met and that they do not feel that they are living in isolation.

We can only do our work of practicing impatience and gratitude with support from the community. We need staff, donors, volunteers, clients, participants, governmental and non-governmental community based organizations all connecting in some capacity with Jewish Social Services. This is how we get our work done.

In the next couple of weeks you will likely receive a letter from Jewish Social Services about our Friends Campaign. It is the one fundraising campaign we do per year for our overall community and helps to pay for our operational costs for all of our programs, including resettlement. Without the Friends Campaign, we could not have Lechayim, case management, chaplaincy or refugee resettlement. We could not provide barrier relief, odd-jobbers, or friendly visitors.

If you have already given to the Friends Campaign, thank you. If you have never given to the Friends Campaign before, but have given to refugee resettlement, please consider supporting this Campaign. JSS needs the help of everyone to ensure that all of our programs will succeed.

A Tish B’Av Update from The Refugee Resettlement Team

This past Tuesday the Jewish community observed Tisha B’av, a major day of communal mourning on the Jewish calendar, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second ancient Temples in Jerusalem. A central ritual of the Tisha B’av is the recitation of the Book of Lamentations which includes not only dirges but also descriptions of the siege of Jerusalem. The text captures the horror of the siege: the starving of children, the raping of women and defiling of priests.

Refugees that JSS is settling and the millions who are seeking refugee around the world could tragically write a contemporary Book of Lamentations to describe the horrors they have witnessed. Our staff does not know the details of the atrocities that our newly arriving families have witnessed but we know there are victims of violence and persecution that have led them to flee across the world for safety. We hear their wailing when we listen to the chanting of the Book of Lamentations.

However, the wailing has not reached our government in Washington. On Wednesday, the day after Tisha B’av, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue introduced the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy” (RAISE) Act, and President Trump has embraced the Bill. This bill would cut legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade and by 41% in the first year. These reductions would primarily be achieved by curtailing the ability of American citizens and permanent residents to bring family into the country. If passed the legislation would also permanently cap refugee admissions at 50,000.

The Haftarah this Shabbat says, “Raise your voice with power… Raise it, have no fear…” (Isaiah 40:9). Whether or not we will attend synagogue and hear these words read let us each take them to heart and use our voices to strongly oppose the RAISE Act.

As we continue to strive for justice we wish you a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Renee Bauer and Dawn Berney
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TAKE ACTION
If you would like to volunteer with the refugee resettlement program, you must attend a orientation. As of September 1, all resettlement volunteers will need to have attended an orientation. These will be held at our office at 6434 Enterprise Lane and snacks will be provided. The next one is:  August 21st, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

All of these will take place in the JSS conference room and snacks will be provided.
RSVP to Becca

TELL CONGRESS: Stand Up for Refugee Protection & Resettlement and

Reduce Funding for Immigration Detention, Deportation & Border Militarization
CALL YOUR SENATORS & REPRESENTATIVES TODAY: 1-866-961-4293
Please call 3 times to connect with your Representative and both of your Senators

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I support refugee resettlement and strongly oppose President Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban executive order. I urge you to do everything in your power to see that the administration resettle at least 75,000 refugees in 2018 and keeps the DACA* program intact. I call on you to protect refugee assistance and resettlement against proposed budget cuts; increase funding for trafficking survivors; and reduce funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization, which only tear families and communities apart. My community welcomes refugees and immigrants, and I urge you to reflect the best of our American values of compassion and welcome.”* DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

For more information:

Refugee Resettlement Update 7/21/17

For all of us who care about refugees and the United States refugee program, the Torah portion we read this Shabbat, Mattot-Maasei, is particularly compelling. We read about the requirement God gives the Israelites to set up cities of refuge when they enter the land of Israel. They are told that they must set up six cities where anyone who has accidentally killed someone could find safety from the “blood avenger” who seeks to kill him. These cities are not just for Israelites: “These six cities shall be a refuge for the children of Israel and for the proselyte and resident among them, so that anyone who unintentionally kills a person can flee there” (Num. 35:15).

At the end of a week when the courts have gone back and forth about which refugees, immigrants, and visitors from six majority Muslim countries can enter into our country, it is striking that Jewish tradition is so clear that we need a place for people under attack to find safety – no matter their faith or nationality.

Not only does Torah teach that nation-building must include spaces of refuge, but the classical rabbis argue that the path to the cities of refuge must be unobstructed to avoid delaying anyone who is fleeing to the city. As Rambam says in Mishneh Torah, “The court is obligated to straighten the roads to the cities of refuge, to repair them, and to broaden them. They must remove all impediments and obstacles … so as not to delay one who is fleeing [to a city of refuge].”

Our courts and our government are currently doing just the opposite for refugees – not those who have committed unintended killings – but those innocent people fleeing persecution and violence. The legal decisions over the last ten days put the U.S. refugee program into chaos. Last Thursday a federal judge in Hawaii expanded the definition of what was considered a close family member and a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity, which are now the only exceptions in place to the travel ban which was upheld in part by the Supreme Court on June 26.
In the Hawaii ruling the court included refugee resettlement agencies, like JSS, as bona fide entities. We at JSS, along with our refugee resettlement agencies around the country, celebrated this ruling with cautious optimism knowing that it would have allowed all refugees who had already been matched with an agency into the country. On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court upheld the expanded definition of family ties from the Hawaii case but rejected that our agencies are a bona fide entity.
This new ruling means refugee admissions will be limited to those who have a “close” family tie in the United States. Therefore, JSS is expecting that we will not be getting any new families until October when the ban expires.
At this crucial time it is more important than ever that we call our senators and representatives and echo the call in this week’s Torah portion to create a safe and unobstructed path to safe refuge in our country for those fleeing persecution.

Take Action

TELL CONGRESS: Stand Up for Refugee Protection & Resettlement and
Reduce Funding for Immigration Detention, Deportation & Border Militarization
CALL YOUR SENATORS & REPRESENTATIVES TODAY: 1-866-961-4293
Please call 3 times to connect with your Representative and both of your Senators
Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I support refugee resettlement and strongly oppose President Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban executive order. I urge you to do everything in your power to see that the administration resettle at least 75,000 refugees in 2018 and keeps the DACA* program intact. I call on you to protect refugee assistance and resettlement against proposed budget cuts; increase funding for trafficking survivors; and reduce funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization, which only tear families and communities apart. My community welcomes refugees and immigrants, and I urge you to reflect the best of our American values of compassion and welcome.”* DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

For more information:
Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Renee Bauer and Dawn Berney

JSS Fundraiser was a huge success!!!

Thank you to everyone who supported Just Desserts. We raised over $12,000 In addition to beautiful donated space by AMC theater (Sundance), desserts from community establishments specializing in sweet treats, we enjoyed gorgeous floral displays from The Florettes and there was live music performed by David Adler of local bands The Gomers and Steely Dane, volunteer speakers, and a local employer and a short video. Plus, Leora Saposnik, Laurie Nagus and all of our wonderful volunteers were total rock stars!

If you were unable to join us please consider making a donation to our program today. It is for a good cause.

If you would like contact information for any of the vendors who supported our programs, please call or email us. We would be happy to share the information.

Only Do Justice: An Update from the Refugee Resettlement Team 7/7/17

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Balak, the king of Moab sends the prophet Balaam out to curse the Israelites. Instead of cursing the people Balaam blesses them three times. So too, three times now the Trump administration has tried to vilify refugees and end our country’s long history of welcome to refugees with two executive orders and one appeal to the Supreme Court to uphold those orders. Despite the rhetoric coming out of Washington we like Balaam will not follow the call to close our borders and close our hearts no matter how many times we are asked to. We will continue to speak of the blessings that refugees bring to our country and to our local community here in Madison.
Last week the Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing President Trump’s travel ban to partially take effect. The 90 day travel ban for visitors from six majority Muslim nations and a 120 suspension of the refugee program is in effect for anyone without a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with an individual or entity in the United States. Since the ruling there has been debate about what types of relationships will be included under this ruling. HIAS, the national refugee resettlement agency of which JSS is an affiliate, explained the way the administration is interpreting bona fide relationship in a statement.”HIAS has learned that ties to resettlement agencies are not expected to be considered as a “bona fide relationship” for a refugee. This will be in place after July 6, when the U.S. is expected to have resettled 50,000 refugees for the fiscal year. Refugees arriving after that date will be subject to the new rules.” (See the full statement here) As of today, refugees who have managed to pass through the many steps of gaining access to the USA will be shut out if they do not already have family here in the United States.
We at JSS are deeply disheartened by this new situation. Having seen the courage and the need of the refugee families who have already arrived in the United States we ache at the thought of families who are waiting to come and will now be turned away. We will continue, in partnership with HIAS and with you, our dedicated community, to do everything we can to fight back against this ruling. We will take part in actions that answer God’s call to us in this week’s Haftarah portion, “God has told you what is good and what God requires of you: Only to do justice, and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God”. (Micha 6:8)
Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Renee Bauer and Dawn Berney

Coming and Going: Refugees in Madison 6/23/17

Resettlement Update

Earlier this week on World Refugee Day, June 20, JSS welcomed a new refugee family to Madison. One of our obligations as a resettlement agency is to provide a culturally appropriate meal upon arrival. The family, who are Iraqi but has been living in Turkey for 2.5 years since fleeing Iraq in 2014, has a friend in Madison. Our caseworkers connected with this friend as they prepared for the family’s arrival. One of our obligations at JSS is to have a culturally appropriate “proper meal” prepared upon arrival. But the friend said that the family had requested that the “proper meal” wait until their second day here because it would be late and they really missed pizza. So pizza it was. As the family settled into their new home in the United State, several pizzas were delivered. And we learned once again we often have much more in common with these newly arriving families than we would have imagined.

Just as this new family arrived one of our first families is saying goodbye. They have made great progress in integrating into American life with steady employment, attaining a driver’s license and buying a car and they are now moving to Kentucky where they have family. They look forward to raising their son, who is now 2, among extended family. All three of them came to the JSS office yesterday to say goodbye. They were immensely grateful for all our agency and community has done for them in their first months in the United States. The woman told us that she would never forget us.
Dawn Berney presented to about 250 people the Downtown Rotary Club on June 7th about the work that Jewish Social Services is doing in refugee resettlement. And you are welcome to join Rabbi Renee Bauer at Capital Lakes on Thursday, June 29th at 11:00 to hear her speak about our program.

Advocacy Update

On June 12 a second Federal Appeals Court ruled against President Trump’s revised travel ban. The Supreme Court will now decide whether to hear the case. For now, the Executive Order halting refugees from entering the United States and targeting travelers from six majority Muslim countries has been stayed. Because of this and the Omnibus Bill that continued funding for the refugee programs until the end of the fiscal year, JSS expects to meet its original goal of resettling 50 people this fiscal year.

By the end of September the President will make a determination of how many refugees will be allowed into the United States in the 2018 fiscal year. We need to continue to put pressure on our representatives and senators to support stable funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement and to support a Presidential Determination of at least 75,000 refugees in FY 2018. Please take a moment to send this request to your representatives. Although the dates of the campaign to write to government officials has passed, it is still important to make your voices heard. We cannot welcome refugees to Madison and do the important work we are doing if there are no refugees entering the country.
In your comings and goings this week do take time to join us in supporting refugees and maintaining our long history of welcome in this country.
Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh Tov,
Rabbi Renee Bauer
Dawn Berney.

National Council on Aging (NCOA) Call-In Day to protect Medicaid on June 14th & Wisconsin Call-In Day June 15th!

From: Janet Zander, Advocacy & Public Policy Coordinator, Greater WI Agency on Aging Resources, Inc.

Despite earlier reports of U.S. Senators having difficulty getting agreement on their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our national advocacy partners are telling us the U.S. Senate is now preparing to fast-track their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implemented a rule allowing the House-passed AHCA to bypass committee discussion and go directly on to the Senate calendar for a vote once the Senate’s revised version is complete.  The latest reports indicate the Senate bill is nearing completion and will soon be sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for evaluation which is expected to take approximately two weeks.  Details of the plan are not expected to be released to the public during this time. The U.S. Senate is hoping to vote on their draft healthcare bill before Congress recesses for the July 4th holiday.

 

Though specific details of the Senate version of the AHCA are not available, we are hearing the Senate intends to keep 80% of the House plan, including substantial cuts to Medicaid.

The CBO evaluation of the House-passed AHCA indicated the proposal would make massive cuts in Medicaid ($834 billion) and cover 14 million fewer people.  The AHCA shifts Medicaid from a federal/state funding partnership to a per capita or block grant structure with capped payments to states and a 25% cut in funding over 10 years. The President’s FY 2018 budget proposes to cut an additional $610 billion from Medicaid benefits creating a combined cut of over $1.4 trillion (45%) over the next 10 years. The impact of these devastating cuts threatens Medicaid programs in Wisconsin such as SeniorCare, Family Care, and IRIS and could result in changes in eligibility and covered services, cuts in service or the reinstatement of waiting lists and/or reductions in provider rates further harming Wisconsin’s long-term care service providers and the people they support.  For more information see the revised Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network ACA/AHCA Update attached.

Medicaid is the primary payer for long-term services and supports. Approximately two-thirds of Medicaid funding in Wisconsin and nationally is used to provide needed services and supports to low-income older adults and people with disabilities. Contact Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson to let them know the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is not good for Wisconsin and ask them to vote NO on the AHCA that cuts Medicaid. 

Below are two options for making calls to Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators. 

1.) The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is offering a toll-free number to connect you with Senators Baldwin and Johnson on Wednesday, June 14th.   See details listed in email  #1 below. 

2.) The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is promoting a Wisconsin Call-In Day on Thursday, June 15th. Additional information, phone numbers and a link to Medicaid enrollment data by Wisconsin Congressional district can be found in email #2 below.

Please choose one of these options/dates and make your calls before it is too late!

 

Email #1:

Senate Republicans are trying to fast-track a health care repeal bill that would devastate Medicaid, which 6.9 million seniors rely on.

Medicaid pays for over 60% of the nation’s long-term care costs, and the bill would result in large cuts to optional home and community-based services that help keep people independent and out of institutions.

Call your Senators on Wednesday, June 14 and tell them to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.

Last month, the House passed a bill that would cut Medicaid by nearly $800 billion and cap payments to states. The Senate is now looking to keep 80% of the House plan, including the Medicaid provisions.

Protect Medicaid! Join us on Wednesday, June 14. Tell your Senators to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.
Your voice can make a difference!

 Howard Bedlin, Vice President, Public Policy & Advocacy 
© 2017 National Council on Aging, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. May not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organizations, or corporations other than NCOA, its affiliates, divisions, and units without the prior written permission of an authorized officer of NCOA. For permission, please contact newsletters@ncoa.org.

 

NCOA | 251 18th Street South | Suite 500 | Arlington, VA 22202

 

Email #2:

Members of the U.S. Senate are working behind closed doors on their own version of American Health Care Act (AHCA).   The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on the AHCA within the next two weeks. There is a lot at stake for Wisconsin in this vote. The AHCA cuts federal Medicaid funding by 25% over 10 years and eliminates key health care protections for children and adults with disabilitiesEstimates indicate Wisconsin could lose $1 billion in funding and put many essential programs and supports for children/adults with disabilities and seniors at risk.

 

There have been no public hearings held on these major proposed changes. Join us on June 15 to let the Senate know that Wisconsinites don’t support the AHCA.  

These significant cuts to Medicaid mean cuts to Wisconsin programs like Family Care, IRIS, the Children’s waiver, BadgerCare, mental health programs like CCS, Katie Beckett, autism services, therapies like OT, PT and Speech, personal care, supports provided in schools and even Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Many of these are “optional services” in Medicaid and are at significant risk of being cut or eliminated.

 

The Senate is also debating:

  • Even bigger cuts to Medicaid
  • Weakening protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  • Allowing states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drug coverage.

 

On June 15, join us in doing these four things:

  1. Call Senators Ron Johnson (202-224-5323) and Tammy Baldwin (202-224-5653) and Ask them to vote NO on the American Health Care act because it:
  2. Includes devastating cuts to Medicaid that will mean cuts to Wisconsin programs that children and adults with disabilities need.
  3. Weakens protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  4. Allows states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drugs
  5. Is being debated behind closed doors with no public input.

 

  1. Call Governor Walker: 608-266-1212 and tell him the AHCA will hurt Wisconsinites.

 

  1. Call your local radio/TV stations and ask to be interviewed about how the health care reform bill hurts children and adults with disabilities.

 

  1. Tell two of your friends what cuts to Medicaid would mean for you and your family. Ask them to call their two U.S. Senators!

Information on Medicaid enrollment in your Congressional District can be found here: http://www.survivalcoalitionwi.org/index.php/2017/updates/results-and-stories-from-survival-coalitions-am-i-impacted-by-medicaid-survey/

Refugee Resettlement Update from Rabbi Renee Bauer – 6/9/17

Immigration and Faith panel at the Carnegie Corporation of New York: Pastor Rich Nathan, Reverend Jennifer Butler and Rabbi Renee Bauer (Father James Martin not photographed here).

As I looked out the taxi window and saw the Welcome to New York City sign, I had a clear sense of my purpose the next day. I was bringing to the halls of power the message of the refugees we were settling, the DACA students we have assisted and the many immigrants who have been clients of JSS. How profound that my grandparents arrived in this city and saw some version of the welcome sign as refugees themselves. I was here now because they were welcomed then.

I had the privilege to speak on June 1 at the quarterly board meeting of the Carnegie Corporation of New York on a panel about faith and immigration. I brought stories of the families we have resettled here in Madison and the bridges we are building between faith communities as we do this work. In our next email update we will share a podcast that the Carnegie produced of the panel participants.

As I was making the presentation in New York, volunteers were working hard here in Madison to prepare the permanent apartment of our newest refugee family. The family of a single mother and three young children had arrived to the country in mid-May and had been living in temporary housing. This family is beginning to settle now into their new home. Meanwhile our refugee staff members and volunteers are preparing to welcome the next family to arrive. Our first Iraqi family will arrive on June 20 which is World Refugee Day.

The UN declared June 20 World Refugee Day in 2001 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It has become a day to celebrate and honor the vast contributions that refugees make. It is also an opportunity to rally increased welcome and support for refugees.

In preparation for World Refugee Day JSS is joining the Stand With Refugee Campaign from June 12-16 to call lawmakers and send a powerful message: We welcome refugees. The goal of the week is to flood the switchboard of Congress with messages that citizens across the country believe in the United States remaining a welcoming country. We ask you to participate:
  • Call 1-844-4STAND5 (1-844-478-2635) during this week, and we’ll connect you directly to your representative and senators. And then email Rabbi Renee Bauer at JSS to let her know you made the call.
  • Text “STAND” to 313131 to receive a reminder about the campaign.
  • Encourage your family, friends and co-workers from around the country to do the same.
  • To learn more, see  http://www.standwithrefugees.us/ or email StandWithRefugees@wr.org

Volunteer Opportunity with Seniors!

We are looking for volunteers to help with packing, shopping for a car and moving a couch.

We have a client who needs to buy a new car, something inexpensive and efficient and we are looking for someone who knows cars to help with this process.

In addition, we need lots of help packing, and also help moving a couch.

If you are able to help, please contact Maya Garbuz


Be sure to keep checking our blog for further Volunteer Opportunity Updates!