SLIDESHOW: Refugees Get a Taste of America at First Thanksgiving Dinners

By Gabe Cahn,

“Sharing new experiences with others is incredibly meaningful,” said Karolin Lipman.

Lipman, a member of Congregation of Beth Shalom in Wilmington, Delaware, is hosting a recently arrived refugee family from Afghanistan in her home this Thanksgiving. The family, who are celebrating the American holiday for the first time, was resettled by HIAS’ local resettlement partner Jewish Family Service of Delaware, and Beth Shalom has played an active role in welcoming them.

“More than 60 years ago my parents and sisters were refugees that immigrated here from Hungary,” Lipman added. “They were brought here by HIAS and helped by the community. I am forever grateful that my family had the opportunity to come to this country and live free lives and live the American dream.”

Lipman’s 94-year-old mother will join the other guests in bringing dishes to the meal from their home countries. In total, foods from six countries will be represented at the table.

For some, the first Thanksgiving is best celebrated as a group.

On Sunday, November 19, HIAS Pennsylvania held its ninth annual Refugee Thanksgiving at the Old Pine Community Center in Philadelphia. More than 100 refugees and asylees came together to share a meal and honor the diversity of language, culture and tradition in their community. 

And in Columbus, Ohio, HIAS partner US Together will gather staff, clients, volunteers, and interns at the agency’s office on Tuesday, November 28 for a belated Thanksgiving celebration. The holiday-themed event will include foods from a variety of cultures in appreciation of the community’s diversity.

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