Europe’s Progressive Jews Lend a Helping Hand to Refugees
By Bill Echikson, EUPJ Brussels Director
As we approach Passover and its story of wandering and freedom, it’s appropriate to think of today’s refugees – the 80 million people around the world who have fled their homes due to persecution and violence.
The European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) teamed up with HIAS to sponsor a Refugee Shabbat and a webinar dedicated to how European Jews can help refugees. HIAS, founded more than a century ago in New York to help Jews fleeing Europe, has opened an office in Brussels.
The webinar featured Jewish activists from around Europe who shared their experiences and learning.
Sonia Feiger from Vienna recounted how she formed Shalom Alaikum, which collects and distributes clothing and other items for refugees.
Stephanie Lecesne from Brussels explained how she engaged with mostly Muslim refugees.
Chantal Suissa-Runne from Amsterdam outlined her pathbreaking “Getting to Know Your Neighbour” programme, which hosts half-day visits with local school children to the Dutch city’s Progressive synagogue.
Giorgio Gomel from Beth Hillel in Rome detailed how his Progressive community sponsored and mentored refugees, while from Milan, the vice president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, Giorgio Mortara, spoke of Jewish assistance in Northern Italy.
L-R: Top: Chantal Suissa-Runne, Stephanie Lecesne and Celia Gomez.
Middle: Giorgio Mortara, Ilan Cohn, William Echikson and Sonia Feiger.
Bottom: Giorgio Gomel and Daniel Rozas
Listen and learn. If you are interested in adopting any of these programs in your community, please reach out to the HIAS Europe Director, Ilan Cohn: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in The Times of Israel.