“You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).
On June 20, we celebrate World Refugee Day.
My grandparents came to the United States as refugees. My grandfather was a child when most of his family was murdered by an anti-Semitic mob who locked their Jewish neighbors in the synagogue where they had gone to pray and set it on fire.
He was a married man, with one daughter, when Germany invaded Poland, killing his wife and child and sending him to Auschwitz. He met my grandmother, a fellow prisoner, in a displaced persons camp.
They came to the United States and built a family and a life.
Every time Jews pray, we remember we were slaves in Egypt and our exodus. We remember being refugees. Every year at the Passover Seder, we reenact the day of our liberation. We tell this story in the first person.
My grandfather would wear his uniform from Auschwitz on Passover. For him, the story truly was his firsthand experience.
Jews are often only a generation or two away from a refugee story. Having a history of persecution, we have had to find new homes again and again. Many in Miami can relate.
We are a city of immigrants; trying to build a better life in a more inviting world.
Temple Beth Am has partnered with Jewish Community Services to welcome refugees. We have been with Afghan refugees at the airport, helped find housing, appropriate Miami clothing, jobs, schools, and more. The work continues as we welcome refugees from the Ukraine.
We do the work because we are commanded over 36 times in the Torah to welcome the immigrant.
We do the work because we were once refugees.
We do the work because it’s personal.
For additional information on how to help, please contact Rabbi Rachel Greengrass at email@example.com