In Our Virtual Mishkan, socialaction, Syrian Refugees

Refugee Relief Update, Jacque Friedland

It’s been quite some time since I provided an update on our refugee resettlement activities, and I would like to share information on what’s happened over the past year and what’s ahead. I have organized this update into three sections: (1) our families in Canada, (2) our commitments to new families, and (3) mitzvah opportunities.

Our families in Canada

When the first COVID lock-down took place in March, we were in touch with all of our families – those who were still in the midst of their first year in Canada and those who arrived several years ago. In late March, we dropped off boxes of books and toys to ensure that the kids had some activities to keep them occupied at home in the early days. Later in the spring, we brought three pairs of rollerblades (with knee, elbow, and wrist guards) to one family with three young boys. We also arranged for virtual guitar and Zumba lessons for one of our newest families. We have had some lovely physically distanced visits over the summer. For some of our newer families, we set up volunteers to practice English, which was particularly important as many language programs were put on hold in the early months of COVID and through the summer. Finally, we ensured that kids who were returning to school (vs. virtual schooling) had masks.

Our commitments to new families

We still have applications outstanding for a large Yazidi family and a single Jewish woman in Australia. While these applications have been delayed due to the pandemic, there is still every expectation that these people will come to Toronto in the next year or two (hopefully!).

Mitzvah opportunities

Many people are looking for safe and meaningful mitzvot now and will be grateful that Holy Blossom can provide these invitations. The first is related to one of our families in Toronto, and the other asks are for two new refugees who JIAS will help resettle in Toronto. For the family in Toronto, we are seeking all types of baby items. The baby is expected in March. We would love to provide as much as possible from donations. Please contact me so that I can start a list of available items. Ideally, you would be able to hold on to things until closer to her due date. If necessary, I may be able to store some things in my basement.

For the new refugees, these are two young African men, one from Sudan and one from Eritrea, who are in Israel. Funds are being provided by close friends of these men in Israel, and thus volunteers at HBT will be providing resettlement services. I am looking for two groups of five to sign the government-required documents and help support them once they arrive. The timing is likely not for a few years – JIAS is at the very beginning of the process, which is completing the necessary documents.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you can assist.

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