SLIDESHOW: Hanukkah Events Raise Awareness for Refugees

By Gabe Cahn,

To celebrate light in the darkness. To rededicate ourselves to building a better world.

During what has been at times a dark year for refugees, six Washington, D.C. synagogues dedicated one of the eight nights this year to raising awareness and support for those forced to flee their homelands.  

On Thursday, December 14, Temple Sinai, Temple Micah, Adas Israel, Sixth & I, Washington Hebrew Congregation and Adat Shalom held “The People’s Chanukah Party” at Casolare in the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel in Washington. All proceeds were donated to HIAS. 

“Over the last year, we have seen the importance of standing together and raising a Jewish voice on issues that are important to us, like refugee resettlement,” said Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, an associate rabbi at Temple Sinai.

“I am so happy to be part of a community of clergy in D.C. that enjoys each other’s company, that inspires each other to do good, and that wanted to celebrate together as we come to the end of a difficult year.”

Over the course of the evening, approximately 100 community members stopped by to light candles, eat and drink, dance, and hear “Chanu-logues” from former White House staff members including Matt Nosanchuk, who served as liaison to the American Jewish community under President Obama, and Sarah Hurwitz, who was the head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama.

The rabbis who organized the party are planning to make it an annual event.

One night earlier, in Teaneck, New Jersey, over 40 Temple Emeth members and local community activists gathered to write, sign and mail 600 postcards to their elected officials advocating for refugees to the United States, immigrants at risk of deportation, and dreamers. Postcards were sent to New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, Congressmen Gottheimer, Pascrell, and Frelinghuysen, Governor Elect Phil Murphy, as well as 14 other Senators across the country and President Trump.

The postcards included messages such as, “Supporting immigrants and refugees is an American value,” and “Welcoming refugees makes America stronger.” 

And earlier in the week In New York City, T’ruah also organized the #NotTheWhiteHouseChanukahParty outside Trump Tower, which was similarly intended to “recommit ourselves to fighting for the values of justice and democracy in the year ahead.”

Don’t forget to check out HIAS’ Hanukkah resource, 8 Nights, 8 Ways to Help Refugees, which includes our new refugee children’s book, Rosie and Warda and the Big Tent.

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