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Refugee Shabbat

02/08/2024 01:53:42 PM


Rabbi Bryan Wexler

This Saturday is not only Shabbat, but also Rosh Hodesh, as we begin the new month of Adar I. That means that in shul on Saturday morning we will sing Hallel (Psalms and songs of praise) together! One of the lines that we will chant is from Psalm 118 (verse 5): “Min ha-maietzar karati Yah, anani va-merhav Yah—from a narrow place I cried out to God, and God answered me from a place of expansiveness.” Our siddur comments: “the experience of rescue and redemption is a journey from narrowness and constriction- a feeling of being tied in knots - to wide expanse - being untied and allowed to stretch out fully.” The siddur then translates the verse poetically as: “tormented, I cried out to Adonai, and God answered me with open arms.”

I am thinking a lot about this verse as we prepare to mark our annual refugee Shabbat this Saturday. Each year our Social Advocacy Committee marks Refugee Shabbat through education and advocacy, often in partnership with HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). Refugee Shabbat is about recognizing the importance of supporting refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people around the world.  This year we will mark Refugee Shabbat a bit differently. While we continue to support the work of HIAS and advocate for the rights and safety of refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. and around the world, this year’s Refugee Shabbat will be a bit different. This year we will highlight the incredible work of Kellman Brown Academy (KBA), who since October 7th welcomes 10 Israeli families (20 students) into their school. While these families were not refugees, they were displaced from their homes in southern Israel and they found refuge in our South Jersey community and specifically at KBA. I hope you will join us on Saturday morning as we hear throughout the service and after kiddush) from KBA leadership, families, students, and one of the displaced Israeli families as they share stories about the incredible work that KBA has done in saying and living Am Yisrael Hai! Min ha-meitzar karati Yah—in a moment of deep stress these families cried out—anani va-merhav Yah and they were answered with open arms by the KBA community.

A special thank you to our Social Advocacy Committee under the leadership on Carolyn Levin and Stacey Chazin for once again planning this year’s Refugee Shabbat program. I hope to see you in shul

Shabbat Shalom.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784