As of October 2015, sanctuary status was claimed by 326 counties, 32 cities and four states, according to Philippe Weisz, managing attorney of HIAS Pennsylvania. Despite these numbers, Weisz explained that there is actually no such legal entity as “sanctuary,” since the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates freely. Weisz spoke during the inaugural session of HIAS Pennsylvania’s education series Welcoming the Stranger: Considering Immigration and Refugee Issues from a Jewish Perspective. The series provides background into American law and policy on these issues, as well as teachings on Jewish values. [Read more…]
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By Laurel Fairworth
In light of recent developments it is more important than ever to remind people about what can happen when anti-Semitism is left unchecked. Recently, cemetery stones have been overturned, bomb threats made against synagogues and we have seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Jews. To combat that a new pilot program called Eitanim (which means the strong or steadfast ones), is encouraging teenagers to use technology in a novel way to share what happened in the past to deepen connection to Israel in the future. [Read more…]
On Thursday, March 2, Independence Mall in Philadelphia was filled with supporters of the “Stand Against Hate” rally.
The speakers included Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rabbi Avraham Shmidman of Lower Merion Synagogue, and Rabbi David Strauss of Main Line Reform.
Also speaking were Nancy Baron Baer of the ADL and members of the inter-faith community. [Read more…]
Recently, a group of more than 50 concerned citizens gathered at a home in Villanova for a meeting organized by Rise Up: Indivisible Lower Merion. Indivisible is a national grassroots effort that helps citizens become more civically engaged through local organizing, specifically by targeting members of Congress. [Read more…]
By Laurel FairworthSitting around a table and sharing a meal is an easy and natural way to connect with people of backgrounds different from one’s own. That’s why the Israeli American Council (IAC) has launched Shishi Israeli, an Israeli version of traditional Shabbat dinners taking place over the next several months in Center City, the Main Line, Elkins Park and Cherry Hill, NJ. It is hoped these Shabbat celebrations will help bridge the gap between American Jews and the Israeli community. Yoni Ari, IAC Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter, says, “Friendships and the understanding of each other’s culture can take place while breaking bread and jointly savoring the Friday night tradition.” These Shabbat evenings are open to all, especially to Israeli Americans unaffiliated with a synagogue. Ari continued, “Shishi Israeli is not religious, but rather it is a joyous cultural experience showcasing an Israeli flair with food and music.”
The Friday night events feature singing, dancing, and of course copious amounts of ethnic cuisine. A traditional dinner consists of Moroccan style fish, chicken with fruit, and meatballs with hummus. “Israelis love a big table laid out with all the courses served at the same time. That way they can eat whatever they want depending on their mood,” explained Ari. “This is the typical Jewish way to welcome the new week.” It is hoped that the program will be a magnet for many families from both the Israeli and American communities, creating meaningful and during connections.
Special emphasis will be placed on the next Shishi Israeli scheduled for February 10, 2017. In honor of Tu Bishvat, donations will be collected to plant trees to replace those burned in the recent forest fires that swept Haifa. The following dinners are March 17 in Elkins Park, March 31 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia and early April at a date to be determined in south New Jersey. All of the events are in partnership with local groups which means each is unique. However they will have in common the same Israeli zest for life and Middle Eastern culinary flair.
The Legal Intelligencer reports that lawyers from the firms Langer, Grogan & Diver and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg teamed up with HIAS and the American Civil Liberties Union to form two groups. One group went to the airport to try to help those who were detained, unable to enter the country. A second group went to work on court papers, assisted by lawyers from the immigration law firms of Landau, Hess, Simon & Choi and Green and Spiegel.
By Sunday, this volunteer effort succeeded in ending the detentions. Fully resolving the issues, however, will require substantial litigation, in which these lawyers will play a significant role.