Welcome Circle Sponsors Displaced Ukrainian Family
Under the auspices of Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) in Scotch Plains, several congregants and other community members have formed a “Welcome Circle” to sponsor a displaced Ukrainian family that was forced to leave their war-torn homeland.
The volunteers are working with the non-profit organization HIAS, one of the oldest refugee resettlement agencies in America, as well as the U.S. government’s “Uniting For Ukraine” program, through which qualifying Ukrainians can come to the U.S. for up to two years on “humanitarian parole,” which differs from refugee status. The Welcome Circle has accepted financial responsibility for the family for a minimum of six months, and will help them acclimate to life in the U.S.
HIAS was originally founded over 100 years ago as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. It now draws on its Jewish values and history to provide vital services to refugees and asylum seekers from all faiths and communities around the world, and advocates for their fundamental rights so they can rebuild their lives.
“Our tradition speaks time and again about the importance of welcoming the stranger and refugee in our midst. And many of our own families have stories of immigration to this country where someone reached out a hand to help, or people wished they had,” said Howard Tilman, Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel. “It is now our chance to repay that favor and help this Ukrainian family, because that is who we are.”
Members of the Welcome Circle have taken on responsibilities such as enrollment in school, benefits applications, renting an apartment, finding translators, raising funds, and more. In addition, a donation site was set up to outfit the apartment with everything from groceries to furniture. Volunteers were asked to sign up for various tasks, from helping to deliver furniture to offering rides to medical appointments once the family moves in. These sign-up tasks will continue to evolve as the family’s needs change over time.
“We are so grateful for our congregation’s generosity,” said Laurie Woog, CBI Welcome Circle Chair. “We could not have done this without so many people contributing in so many ways. We often feel helpless in the face of conflict and the overwhelming number of displaced people around the world. The Welcome Circle model offers a way for people in the U.S. to offer a small amount of tangible assistance to individuals and families fleeing danger or persecution.” Woog acknowledges the hard work of the Welcome Circle steering committee, as well as the assistance of Weichert Realtors, Shovlin Mattress Factory, and the Westfield United Fund, among others.
Additional contributions are appreciated. To make a charitable donation, please visit CBI’s Welcome Circle webpage (cbinj.org/Ukrainian-welcome-circle). If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in learning more about forming a Welcome Circle, visit the HIAS website at hias.org.
Congregation Beth Israel is an egalitarian Conservative synagogue, serving the religious, educational, cultural and social needs of congregants from Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield and surrounding towns. It is located at 18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains, NJ (corner of Martine Avenue). For more information about the synagogue, call 908-889-1830.