Category Archives: Social Action

CEH Social Action Event – Refugee and Immigrant Crisis: The Jewish Response

On Sunday, November 3, Congregation Etz Hayim’s Social Action Committee hosted a panel of representatives from local chapters of four non-profit organizations working to mitigate the practical and legal hardships that refugees, asylees and other immigrants face in our community. The representatives provided an historical perspective on U.S. immigration policy, an alert about recent executive action allowing states to ban refugees, and an explanation of the particular issues presented by unaccompanied youth and alien (“honorary”) veterans of the U.S. armed services. Importantly, they outlined the mission and activities of their individual organizations, including the many ways that volunteers can serve as force multipliers in rendering assistance to immigrants (e.g., accompanying subjects to ICE check-ins, providing information on legal rights, political advocacy, material support). After the formal remarks, there was a lively Q&A, which elicited additional substantive information from the expert presenters.

Participant organizations included:

Congregation Action Network/Faith in Action, whose member congregations in the DC/MD/VA region provide support and practical assistance to neighbors, friends, and family who fear being detained, deported or profiled. (Mary Lareau, Northern Virginia Cluster Leader, https://www.congregationactionnetwork.org/).

CASA In Action, the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest electoral organization fighting for immigrant rights. (Miguel Carpizo-Ituarte, Virginia Lead Organizer, https://www.casainaction.org/).

Just Neighbors, which provides immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia (Erin McKenney, Executive Director, https://www.justneighbors.org/).

Lutheran Social Services, which resettles displaced refugees and provides them wellness and health education and other practical services. (Dana Lea, Director of Community Outreach, https://www.lssnca.org/).

In addition to hosting the formal panel, CEH opened the event to representatives from other immigration advocacy groups to bring their organizations’ materials and speak individually with audience members after the formal portion of the program. Staff from The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and Sanctuary DMV set up information tables and fielded questions from attendees, many of whom added themselves to mailing and volunteer lists. This CEH event provided a forum for engaged and compassionate congregants of the Northern Virginia Jewish Community and other faith groups to learn about and take action on behalf of immigrants in crisis, honoring the religious and ethical dictate to “welcome the stranger.”

Kol Nidre Social Action By Rachel Waldstein

The Days of Awe are a time of internal reflection, when we look deep inside ourselves and commit to doing things differently in the coming year. They are also a time when we may renew our commitment to doing our part to repair the world, fulfilling the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. An easy way to do this is through the Social Action Committee, which I chair. Just look at the weekly email and see what we are doing next. For those who may not read the weekly email, I urge you to resolve in the coming year to do so, or to talk to me about other ways you might prefer to learn about our events.

We have some wonderful activities coming up in the next few months: In December, a book sale to benefit low-income children and joining members of Dar Al-Hijrah mosque for their monthly interfaith Solidarity Cup of Tea (which they will hold on a Sunday,  especially for us). In January, our blow-out participation in Arlington’s Martin Luther King Day of Service.

I particularly want to draw your attention to our November event, “The Jewish Response to the Refugee and Immigrant Crisis,” from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 3rd. This forum will feature representatives of several non-profit groups that work on immigrant and refugee issues. Representatives will tell us what is happening now and describe various ways we can take action—including volunteering with groups that help refugees and immigrants, donating household goods, providing pro bono legal assistance, and political advocacy. Whatever your comfort level, you can get involved to help make this terrible situation a little better. We are also inviting area synagogues to join us, so we expect a pretty big turnout.  

And yes, look for an announcement in the weekly email!

Thank you and Shanah Tovah.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Synagogue or Board of Directors.

Arlington MLK Day of Service Recap

On Monday, January 21 somewhere between 25 CEH members and friends braved the bitter cold and wind to warmly join friends and neighbors this morning for the Arlington MLK Day of Service. CEH was publicly thanked for being a sponsor of the event. Members had the chance to meet and chat with County Board members Katie Cristol and Matt Ferranti before heading off to participate in many different service projects, helping Arlington non-profits such as AFAC, Doorways and Aspire. A great time was had by all!!! 

PLEASE bring your donations to our AFAC collection box in the lobby. AFAC needs even more donations to keep up with the increased demand of the furloughed federal workers. Canned proteins, low sodium soups and low sugar cereals are especially needed. Stay tuned for other fun and exciting events being planned by the CEH Social Action Committee! And let’s make CEH participation in next year’s MLK Day of Service even bigger!

Thank you to the CEH Board of Directors for having CEH be a sponsor of the event. And many thanks to the CEH members and friends who joined us for a wonderful day of service.