Creating Sacred Places: Refugee Resettlement Update 3/16/18

As the sun sets this evening we will not only welcome in Shabbat but also Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the beginning of the new Jewish month of Nisan. It is known as Shabbat HaChodesh because Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year. Tradition teaches that the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary built by the Israelites in the Sinai desert, was inaugurated on Rosh Chodesh Nisan. The inauguration occurred after a seven-day period of training and initiation. As it says on the midrash:
“And on all of the first seven days, Moshe used to set up the Mishkan and take it apart at the end of the day. On the eighth day, he set it up, and did not take it apart. And that eighth day was Shabbat, and it was the Rosh Chodesh of Nisan”. (Bamidbar Rabbah, Chapter 13) It was on this day that the Divine Presence began dwelling in the Mishkan.
At JSS during this week of Rosh Chodesh Nisan we are also initiating a new program, Community Action for Refugee Arrival (CARA). Over the last nearly a year and a half since the initiation of JSS’s new refugee program, we have had dedicated volunteers who have prepared homes, meals and basic necessities for our newly arriving families. This is hard work that happens with little advanced notice. The CARA program, in which Congregations and community organizations volunteer to partner with our resettlement staff to do the pre-arrival work is a way for us to share the burdens and privileges of preparing for new families while harnessing the power of existing community organizations. Just like the mishkan that was taken apart each day for seven days and finally stabilized on the eighth, so too the pre-arrival work is being given a stronger structure with CARA.
Last night we had a refugee family arrive from Afghanistan. Congregation Sha’arei Shamayim has worked hard over the last couple months to prepare a home, collect all the basic necessities and fundraise for this family. They made sure that an apartment was move-in ready for the family when they arrived after a long journey. We are so grateful to all the congregations which have volunteered to take on this task for future families.
It is heartwarming to see the hard work, dedication and care that congregations in our community are undertaking to make sure that newly arriving families are welcomed and cared for when they arrive. I believe that when community comes together in this way the Divine presence will be in these mishkans, these sacred dwelling places.

Make refugees part of your seder conversation this year. Download the new 2018 HIAS Haggadah Supplement to explore the connection between the symbols on your Seder plate and today’s refugee

What Can I Do?

Tell Congress to Cut Funds for Deportation, Detention, & Border Militarization and Permanently Protect Immigrant Youth
Right now Congress is considering funding levels for the rest of this fiscal year and next fiscal year that would expand the detention and deportations, further militarize border communities, and separate families. This comes after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act or another bipartisan solution that offers a pathway to citizenship for our dreamer community. Every dollar that is spent without enacting protective legislation will go toward detaining and deporting dreamers, TPS recipients, long time contributors to our communities, children, and asylum seekers, and dismantling family unity. It is critical that Senators and Representatives hear loudly and clearly that their constituents want them to cut this harmful spending, and instead enact legislation that protects our community members from deportations, family separation, and dangerous detention.
Call Your Senators and Representatives TODAY: Click here to tell them to cut funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization!
If you would like to be involved with the new CARA program, please reach out to our resettlement program at Becca@jssmadison.org.

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