This Elul, Let's Bring Ourselves Closer to Addressing the Global Refugee Crisis

September 2, 2016Sarah Greenberg

With 65 million people displaced worldwide, the current global refugee has now surpassed World War II’s record of displaced people. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) reports that this is the first time in the office’s history that the 60 million mark has been surpassed.

A recent report from UNHCR found that, “measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee – putting them at a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent.”

Many Reform Jewish congregations have taken action in response to this crisis, welcoming and supporting, and in Canada, sponsoring refugee families. To learn more about this work, and how you can get involved, visit

And, earlier this week, the Obama Administration announced it had reached its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees. This is a very important, laudable milestone in response to the crisis, but many more refugees need to be resettled, and United States must do more to accept even more refugees.

Global leaders will be convening later this month at two summits to address the global refugee crisis. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71) is holding a high-level summit on refugees and migrants September 19 in New York City, and President Obama is holding a Leaders Summit on the Global Refugees Crisis on the margins of the UNGA71 in Washington, D.C. on September 20.

Here are some of the ways you can show your support for refugees and refugee resettlement:

As we prepare to begin the Hebrew month of Elul, a month of reflection and drawing ourselves closer to God before the High Holiday season, we can use this time to rededicate ourselves to this commandment of our tradition: “the stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:33). We are simultaneously reminded of our time as slaves and as strangers in Egypt, but also the Jewish people’s history in the United States, and know our call to take action to ensure that all those fleeing violence and persecution and seeking a better life can find safe haven on our shores.

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