Congregation Agudat Achim in Niskayuna will host a HIAS Refugee Shabbat on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9.
This weekend is part of a larger annual recognition in which congregations around the world dedicate a Shabbat experience to refugees and asylum seekers, learn more about their needs, and understand how individuals and congregations can help meet those needs.
On Friday evening via Zoom, three refugees will share their experiences, including what life was like in their home countries, why they chose to emigrate to the United States, challenges they faced along the way, how they were assisted in the settlement process, and actions that local residents can take to help in this process. This will take place immediately following the afternoon service that begins at 5:30 pm. Both the afternoon service, which lasts for about 30 minutes, and refugee conversation will use the same Zoom link.
On Saturday, Dan Butterworth, executive director of RISSE in Albany, will speak in person to members of the congregation about the work that RISSE (Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus) is doing to help refugees and recent immigrants build sustainable, independent lives through language and literacy instruction. He also will share how RISSE is providing support services for living and working in the United States. This will take place during the Sabbath morning service, which begins at 9:15 am.
The number of Ukrainian refugees has increased the total number of refugees worldwide to more than 40 million. Stephen Schechter, who heads up the congregation’s Social Action Committee, which is coordinating this event, noted that “when numbers reach such heights, it is easy to forget that each refugee is a human being with a powerful story to tell. Perhaps by listening to, and learning from, the stories that will be shared on April 8 and 9, we can take one small step toward Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, in our small corner of it.”
For more information on how congregants can support refugees in this process, click here.