The Torah is replete with many references to the stranger, from Abraham opening his tent to strangers to being reminded to be kind to them because we were strangers once in Egypt. This commandment is one of the tenets of our faith and it guides us to welcome and help those who need it.
The American Jewish community heeded this call many times over the years, welcoming waves of refugees from many different countries – Jews and others seeking safety from war and persecution. It is now time to extend that welcome again.
Our Jewish community will be partnering with the Louisville Islamic enter to co-sponsor a Syrian refugee family who will be making their way to Louisville on March 7. Over the past few years, the Louisville Islamic Center has become our valued partner on a range of tikkun olam projects. Working together to welcome a Syrian refugee family will serve as an important reminder that Louisville’s Jewish and Muslim communities are friends, share values, and have a deep desire to see that this city lives up to its compassionate goals.
“As people of faith who have a lot in common, these acts of service emphasize that essence and foundation of our belief systems are based on compassion and love for others including strangers,” said Dr. Muhammad Babar, a leader at the Islamic Center. “Love and compassion do not recognize boundaries and limits in any shape and form.
“Let’s rejuvenate this spirit of human brotherhood and sisterhood by supporting this unfortunate family of four that is forced to leave land of their ancestors at the hands of ruthless forces of injustice and oppression,” he continued. “I believe that no one knows this strange and brutal feeling of helplessness in a foreign land better than my Jewish brothers and sisters whose parents and grandparents have lived and survived this tragic experience just few decades ago. Let’s join our voices to say ‘Never Again.’”
The situation in Syria is a humanitarian disaster and it continues to get worse by the day. The Syrian regime, with allies such as Iran, Russia, and the Hezbollah terrorist group have unleashed a vicious battle against all whom they perceive as their enemy, attacking civilian areas, and destroying many civilian neighborhoods.
Fighting them are rebel groups of all sizes and backgrounds, including the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Kurds, other smaller groups, all with varying aims, and some with methods just as brutal as the regime. Caught in the middle, as is so often the case, are the innocent civilians of Syria.
Over 400,000 people have been killed already, a number that will climb higher. Millions have been internally displaced in Syria, driven from their homes by the constant fighting. And millions of others are now refugees outside of Syria, living in desperate conditions in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East.
We are co-sponsoring the Alsaid Mustafa family, refugees from a Damascus suburb who have been living in Egypt since 2013. They are a family of four, including two young children – a daughter, Mirna, who is 9, and a son, Tarek, who is 6-1/2. Their father Mustafa is a carpenter.
The conditions that this family have lived in for years have been quite desperate and although they were safe in Egypt, their lives were difficult. Syria has been in a civil war since 2011. After five years of unimaginable hardship, we are happy that we can play this small part in making them whole again.
Our community will help with their initial settlement here in Louisville and our sponsorship will cover them for their first three months. We will help with taking them to appointments, making sure their legal status is progressing through our system and helping them acquire the initial cultural skills necessary to thrive here, all while partnering with the Louisville Islamic Center. We will also begin a collection of housewares to provide them with at least some of what they will need.
If you are interested in helping this family, please contact me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org.