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And You Shall Love the Stranger: Mobilizing Our Community for Refugees

And You Shall Love the Stranger: Mobilizing Our Community for Refugees

Congregation B’nai Jehudah followed a multi-pronged approach, seeking to impact the community through education, the broader non-Jewish community through education and advocacy, and the refugee community itself through support.

Community Contact Information

The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah

Overland Park, KS

http://bnaijehudah.org

Goals

  • Educate the Jewish and general communities of Kansas Cities about refugees and refugee resettlement
  • Advocate for continued refugee resettlement in the Kansas City area
  • Support local refugees

Partnerships

  • Jewish Vocational Services
  • Catholic Charities
  • Della Lamb
  • KC for Refugees
  • Individual refugee families
  • Two state representatives
  • HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)

Implementation

January 2016

                Board makes unanimous commitment to education, advocacy and support

                Congregation B’nai Jehudah (CBJ) endorses a petition to Missouri Governor

                Rabbis and President sign a refugee support letter to Kansas Governor

February 2016

                B’nai Jehudah joins the HIAS Welcome Campaign

May 2016

                B’nai Jehudah is a founding supporter of KC for Refugees

June 2016

Rabbi Kirzane represents B’nai Jehudah at a Global Table and World Refugee Day; these events are hosted by Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), a local resettlement agency

July 2016

                CBJ strategy session to outline the following six months of refugee programming

August 2016

Rabbi Kirzane teaches on refugee resettlement at Day of Discovery (local Limmud-style program of community learning)

September 2016

Yom Kippur sermon dedicated to educating about refugee resettlement supplemented with afternoon study session giving more background information plus hands-on tips and tools for how to advocate for refugees in our area

Rabbi Kirzane and a lay activist from the community co-teach an elective in our middle/high school religious school program on refugees

October 2016

                Su-coat Drive for Refugees

November 2016

                Refugee Resettlement Forum Co-sponsored with JVS

December 2016

                Annual religious school “Mitzvah Marketplace” welcomes JVS as a new agency

February 2017

                Refugee Birthday Party

May 2017

CBJ hosts a New Roots for Refugees in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), pairing our community with a local refugee family

Results

  • Support: Hundreds of coats collected and distributed. Hundreds of refugees celebrated with a birthday party.
  • Advocacy: More than 100 community members informed about refugee resettlement. Opinions shared and discussed in the local Jewish newspaper. Kansas City highlighted by HIAS for refugee work.
  • Education: Important partnerships forged with Jewish Vocational Services, KC For Refugees, and other related groups (Sisterhood of Salaam/Shalom, Catholic Charities, Della Lamb, First Baptist Church of Blue Springs, and more). Email list of forty interested community members maintained. Dozens educated in synagogue classes offered for children and adults. More than 1000 reached through sermons on the topic.