Jewish Communities Around the World to Mark HIAS’ 6th Annual Refugee Shabbat

SILVER SPRING, Md. — With its sixth annual Refugee Shabbat February 2-3, 2024, HIAS is renewing the call for Jews around the world to take action on behalf of forcibly displaced people. The global initiative encourages synagogues, other community organizations, and individuals to dedicate a Shabbat experience to reaffirming support for refugees, at a time when the right to seek asylum is under attack in the U.S. and many other countries.

“The number of forcibly displaced people globally has grown to more than 110 million, but people seeking protection continue to be turned away at borders around the world,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “To make matters worse, climate change is having a growing impact on vulnerable populations, alongside violent conflict, economic instability and other factors that drive migration. Refugee Shabbat gives us an opportunity to focus on these challenges and turn our prayers into action, as we rededicate ourselves to welcoming the stranger by working toward solutions.”

“In the aftermath of the October 7 attacks in Israel, there is no question that the world feels different this year — we have mourned, questioned our certainties, and have at times been angry and scared. But we have also drawn upon deep wells of resilience to affirm Jewish joy and continue the important work we are doing on behalf of and in solidarity with forcibly displaced people,” said Rabbi Megan Doherty, HIAS Senior Educator, Community Engagement. “This year’s Refugee Shabbat is a moment for congregations, organizations, and individuals around the globe to rest and reflect, to celebrate our accomplishments, and recommit ourselves to the creation of a more just, welcoming, and compassionate world.”

Communities that wish to make a connection between recent events in Israel and Gaza and their observance of Refugee Shabbat will have access to resources on the conflict, and HIAS has made a Shabbat dinner discussion guide available to all participants.

Events connected to this year’s Refugee Shabbat will include a livestreamed Refugee Shabbat service on Friday February 2, in partnership with Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City.

The date for this year’s Refugee Shabbat aligns with the Torah portion Yitro — the reading from the Book of Exodus where the Jewish people experienced the revelation at Mt. Sinai, while also receiving a crucial lesson about the administration of justice from a non-Israelite with no access to Torah. This portion presents congregations with the opportunity to reflect on relationships with communities and individuals from different nations, cultures, and backgrounds, in keeping with the central Jewish value of welcoming the stranger — an imperative repeated more than any other commandment in the Torah.

To learn more, visit the Refugee Shabbat 2024 page at

About HIAS

HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 23 countries across the globe. We advocate for the rights of all forcibly displaced people to rebuild their lives and seek to create a world in which they find welcome, safety, and opportunity. Learn more and take action at

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