JIAS 2023 Haggadah Supplement
Each Passover, we are commanded to re-experience our people’s flight from slavery and persecution. One way to do this is to connect our history of escaping enslavement with the growing number of refugees worldwide.
This Passover, let us remember all who still seek safety and freedom. For a JIAS resource to enhance your
Seder and connect our own journey with that of refugees today, download the JIAS HAGGADAH SUPPLEMENT HERE.
A Worsening World Refugee Crisis
Over 100 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters, conflict, and persecution. Among them are nearly 36.5 million refugees living in temporary, transitory circumstances outside of their country of origin with no possibility of returning safely to their homes.
The Canadian Response
Canada is a world leader in humanitarian resettlement, ranking in first among 26 countries in refugee resettlement.
The government also works in partnership with Canadian citizens and organizations to bring refugees to safety through Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSR), which accounts for two-thirds of Canada’s resettled refugees.
Private sponsorship offers hands-on, community-based support for refugees that has been shown to help refugees achieve slightly better outcomes and become better integrated into their communities than government-sponsored refugees. Canada’s PSR Program has become a model for other countries around the world. In the 40 years since the PSR program began, participants have demonstrated the generosity of spirit that helps define Canada to the world.
Learn more about JIAS’s refugee sponsorship support here.
JIAS Private Sponsorship Refugee Program
In 2014, JIAS received Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) status from the Canadian government, allowing us to privately sponsor refugees. Today, JIAS remains the only Jewish agency in Canada with this status and works with dozens of community groups and individuals to privately sponsor refugees from around the world from countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Rwanda and Vietnam. In the past 7 years, JIAS has supported over 700 refugees through the Private Sponsorship Program. To learn more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugee program, click here.
We See You As Our Past. We See You As Our Future. Join Us.
The Jewish value of ‘welcoming the stranger among us’ is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. At its heart, to welcome is to see the whole person and ensure their comfort by offering individualized and adaptive support. WE SEE YOU is the JIAS centennial narrative, celebrating the past and ongoing commitment to welcoming and settling immigrants and refugees into the Jewish community and beyond. Learn more about JIAS’s ongoing crisis response here.
Five Ways To Support Refugees
- Share knowledge – Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition and demonstrates our shared responsibility to people who are displaced and persecuted. However, there are a number of unfounded and negative myths that surround Canada’s refugee resettlement. This Refugee Shabbat, commit to learning and sharing information from trusted sources.
- Have a difficult conversation – Commit to having at least one conversation with someone who has expressed doubt about welcoming refugees to Canada. This Refugee Shabbat, be proud of your commitment to supporting refugees. This is a helpful resource.
- Volunteer – Volunteer to support refugees and other vulnerable newcomers. Research has shown that volunteers have a significant impact on refugee integration, acting as a key defense against social isolation and newcomer despair. This Refugee Shabbat, consider signing up for these or other opportunities.
- Provide financial support – This Refugee Shabbat, donate to help bring refugees to Canada and provide crucial supports to vulnerable newcomers as they settle and rebuild their lives.
- Save a life – Canada’s Private Sponsorship Program has saved lives. This Refugee Shabbat, inquire if your synagogue or other groups in your community are sponsoring refugees and join their efforts. You can also create your own sponsorship group that can be supported by JIAS.
Questions & Answers
The Torah commands Jews at least 36 times to Welcome the Stranger. One commentary on this repetition suggests that even though it is our experience, even though we should know instinctively based on having been the stranger, it does not necessarily come naturally. We need reminding. The following are some examples from Shmot (Book of Exodus), Dvarim (Deuteronomy) and Vayikra:
(Leviticus): Exodus 22:20
(20) You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
(19) You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
(34) The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.
The phrase “In our Midst” also relate to the current refugee crisis.
The Torah talks about the stranger “in our midst”. While most of the world’s refugee are oceans apart from Canada, access to information about their struggles is within easy reach (“in our midst”). The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record, with one person forcibly displaced almost every two seconds because of conflict or persecution.
We honour our Jewish history and experience by upholding the Jewish value to “welcome the stranger.
HIAS 2023 Refugee Shabbat Resource Guide
Beshalach: Building Brave and Bold in the Face of Crisis | Bayit
CJN Podcast: A century of Welcoming Jewish Immigrants to Canada
One Document at a Time: Capturing the History of Jews Helping Immigrants to Canada – Niv (nivmag.com)
Bayit: Building Jewish – Welcoming the Stranger & Protecting the Refugee (Video Conversation with JIAS)
Ukraine, Afghan Resettlement Top of Mind for Refugee Shabbat 2022 | HIAS
Denied asylum in Israel, Eritreans are welcomed by Canadian Jews (Christian Science Monitor, January, 2022)
A Jewish agency helps immigrants and refugees find a home in Canada – Niv (nivmag.com)
Star Trek & The Jews Podcast with JIAS Toronto: For You Were Strangers
Jewish Immigrant Aid Services celebrates centennial | Winnipeg Free Press
Government and privately sponsored refugees coming to Canada from overseas undergo a multi-layered screening before arrival, including identity confirmation, health screenings, and rigorous security checks.
Refugees are forced to flee their homes while economic immigrants have the ability to choose where and when to move. Canada recognizes this by having separate programs for refugees and economic immigrants. The number of newcomers that Canada accepts from one group does not affect the other.
Immigrants stimulate the economy and contribute to building Canada into a prosperous country for all. They also help to maintain a stable economy in the face of declining birth rates and an aging labour force.
The cost of healthcare for refugees and refugee claimants, who are typically younger in age, is only a fraction of that of other Canadians.
Refugees come to Canada in a variety of different ways. Privately sponsored refugees are financially supported by the sponsoring citizens and are not eligible for any social assistance during their first year in Canada. Government-sponsored refugees receive minimal financial support from the federal government for a limited time to meet basic food and shelter costs. Refugee claimants in Canada receive Interim Federal Health, limited legal aid and in some provinces social assistance.