The Christian Science Monitor

For love of strangers: Behind the Jewish legacy of welcoming refugees

When thousands of Afghan immigrants were resettled in California’s Sacramento County over the past decade, volunteers from Congregation B’nai Israel were among those in the county providing aid, helping parents find apartments and jobs, and offering assistance ranging from literacy lessons to backpacks and school supplies. 

“We have Holocaust survivors in our congregation, and so many of us are just a generation or two removed from relatives who went through that experience or were forced to leave their country,” says Maryann Rabovsky, who has served as chairwoman of the synagogue’s immigration and refugee assistance committee since it was formed three years ago. “They came here as refugees, and so we understand how important it is to help others who are having to leave everything they know behind.”

That calling to help the “other” – to welcome strangers, to aid immigrants and refugees – is one with deep roots in Judaism, as well as other faiths, and many Jews say they feel both a deep moral obligation as well an ethical imperative from their own history. 

And it’s a message that gained new prominence this

'A moral commitment'‘If you save one life, you save a world’

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