Syrian Refugee Sponsorship
Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, Temple Emanu-El-Beth-Sholom sponsors two Syrian families to come to Canada as refugees, enabling them to escape the violence that caused the loss of their family members and the destruction of their homes.
Community Contact Information
Rabbi Grushcow presented initiative to sponsor Syrian families to the Board of Trustees at Temple.
Rosh Hashana sermon - Rabbi Grushcow presents the project and asks the congregation for financial and volunteer support.
Contribution exceeded more than $60,000 by this time. Temple identified two families to sponsor who have relatives in Montreal: 1) A family of 6 - father, mother, 4 children who escaped from Syria, sought refuge in Jordan; and 2) A family of 7 - father, mother 5 children who sought refuge in Lebanon.
The Working Group on Syrian Refugee Sponsorship was developed, consisting of immigration lawyers, social workers, and other Temple members.
Meeting of 40 members of temple who volunteered to assist in welcoming the families, help them get established. Subcommittees were created to deal with the various aspects of settlement: Housing, Material Goods, Health and Social Services, Employment and Careers, Education.
December 2015-April 2016:
Met with and interviewed the families of the prospective sponsored persons living in Montreal, who are working with Temple to bring their relatives to Montreal. Two members of temple (social workers) interviewed the families and formed ongoing relationships with them. The immigration lawyer members of the Working Group met with the families in Montreal to try to establish a game plan in terms of submitting the sponsorship application.
Temple held a workshop for volunteers on “Building Relationships with Our Sponsored Families" which included a presentation and discussion by a Migration Specialist, in order to prepare our Working Group for the challenges ahead.
Panel organized at Temple with Minister of Immigration for Quebec-Kathleen Weil, Director of International Community Action Network, Syrian Refugees.
September 2015-February 2017
Ongoing collection of furnishings, household goods, clothing for two families- -ongoing Syrian sponsorship task force meetings for subcommittees
Ongoing consultations with refugee organizations, immigration professionals
Ongoing communication with temple members –The Voice (temple bulletin) announcements in synagogue
Notification of first family arriving in Montreal two weeks prior to arrival date -February 27 was approximate date given.
Subcommittees gear up, given approximate arrival date: search for apartment, inspection and leasing of apartment, preparation for move, inventory of furniture collected, household goods, clothes, arranging movers, budgets reviewed, identification of immediate tasks to be accomplished prior to family’s arrival , airport arrangements , temporary housing etc., winter clothing, gifts for children, delegation to meet family at airport.
Arrival of first family in Montreal.
Arrival of second family in Montreal- same arrangements as above.
February 27- present
Settling of permanent homes for Syrian families in areas close to their own families living in Montreal. Set up of homes with furniture, goods, clothing. Accompanying families to appointments, school registration, language training registration, other needs. Attendance at reception at Muslim community centre, various meetings and social/cultural outings with families.
- Safe arrival in Montreal of the two families in February and March of this year, respectively. One family consists of a mother, father, and four children. The other family consists of a mother, father and five children. These families have been reunited with other family members living in Montreal, an aspect of the outcome that is truly precious to us, particularly after they have lost so much in the conflict, including their homes, family members and, effectively their homeland.
- the families have settled in their homes; the children have started public school in Montreal (which includes a special integration program for new immigrants); the parents are taking language training before finding employment (as the Quebec government requires French language training to be undertaken). Working Group and other congregation members have had several visits with the families and are often shuttling them to appointments and to retailers to have basic needs met. We were graciously invited to and attended a reception at a Muslim community centre in which the families expressed their appreciation for Temple's efforts.
- It is important to understand the particular context of settlement in the Province of Quebec, in which Montreal is situated, in that as a bilingual province the families must learn both English and French. Both families are rising to the challenge by attending language training. Once the parents have had an opportunity to hone their language skills more, they will seek full time employment and we have made efforts to connect with potential employers in that regard, even with Syrian-owned companies.
- Both families have had guided tours of the city, had dinner with various Working Group members and their families, had dinner with the local Unitarian Church group also sponsoring a Syrian family, and attended a commemorative piano concert at the Montreal Holocaust Museum featuring a Syrian concert pianist. Children from both families participated in the annual Temple Mitzvah Morning including decorating flower pots for gift plants for seniors, writing in English(!) cards for cancer patients, making dog biscuits for animal shelters.