JSS Refugee Resettlement Update for the Community – 2/17/17

This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Yitro, begins with Moses’s father-in-law asking Moses why he is doing all the governance and ministering of justice on his own. He tells Moses, “the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone” (Exodus 18:1). He tells Moses that he must train others to help him administer justice.
Like Moses, the work of resettling and advocating for refugees is too heavy for the small staff at JSS to do alone. We are one step ahead of Moses. We know we need help and are blessed with a supportive community and an extraordinary team of volunteers who make the work of JSS possible.

Thank you to the overwhelming response we received after last week’s email. We now have enough volunteers to drive one of the new arrived refugees to work until winter is over and he can consistently bike. It is amazing to have volunteers willing to help at 5:30AM! We also received two bikes for the men who requested them.

The three families who are here continue to move toward integration and independence. The two children from the first family who arrived in late December began pre-school this week and the five-year-old girl from our most recently arrived family can now introduce herself in English!

While the news on national front is much more challenging than the local successes, there are many who support refugee resettlement in our communities. We encourage you to look at the letter sent earlier this week and signed by 202 Kindertransport survivors and descendants to urge President Trump to keep America’s doors open to today’s refugees. The letter is posted here.

This letter was organized by the Kindertransport Association -a not-for-profit organization that unites child Holocaust refugees and their descendants. Jewish Social Services is proud to stand with this group in urging the President and Members of Congress to protect and welcome children and families who flee persecution.
We are grateful that the courts continue to rule in favor of keeping our borders open. However, in the original executive order that President Trump signed on January 27, he reduced the number of refugees that will be allowed in this country during the 2016-2017 fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000. This part of the executive order remains in effect. The decrease has received less the attention but will have a drastic effect on people seeking refuge in our country. It will also reduce the number of refugees JSS will resettle this year. Unfortunately, we no longer expect the three families from Syria and Eritrea that had been matched with JSS to come to the United States because of the reduced quota. We do expect to welcome a new family from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of this month. We will keep you updated on their arrival.
We need your help again this week.
  1. We need bike lights for two bikes. Please contact Becca Schwartz if you have some to donate.
  2. Our staff would like to meet with our senators and representatives when they are in recess in Wisconsin next week. HIAS would like for us (and our volunteers) to educate our government officials about the importance of refugee resettlement and to strongly encourage the increase the number of refugees that can welcomed this year. Please contact Rabbi Bauer if you are able to get an appointment with members of congress and she will provide you with talking points.
  3. We are looking for a two bedroom apartment for our newest incoming family. If you know of one (preferably west of the Capitol), heat included, on a bus route, heat included, for less than $900 per month, please contact RihabTaha or Becca Schwartz.
  4. Please sign HIAS’s petition if you have not already.

Jethro tells Moses in this week’s Torah portion that if he gets help from others he will hold up and the people will go in peace. So too do we depend on you to hold up our program and thank you for all you do.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Renee Bauer
Dawn Berney

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