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WELCOME CIRCLES

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WHAT IS A WELCOME CIRCLE?

Uniting for Ukraine is the federal program, announced on April 21, through which the U.S. government will accept 100,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Although those arriving through this program are not eligible for traditional resettlement, local resettlement affiliates are working to provide as much support as possible.

 

And so WJCI is stepping up! We are not only offering to provide funding but one of our team members is an official HIAS Welcome Circle Liaison and can walk you through the process, step by step. Read our one-sheet here.

 

Through Welcome Circles, a group of 5-8 volunteers provides their new neighbors with the type of assistance usually provided by resettlement professionals for six months, often with support from their broader community. The primary role of a Welcome Circle is to help individuals and families get their feet on the ground by sharing tools and helping to navigate and guide. You are not adopting them – you are a support for a family who came as an expert on their own life and needs, helping them navigate a new country and new systems. Welcome Circles have access to the following: Ongoing support offered through an organization called a Sponsor Circle Umbrella; a growing suite of tools (e.g., checklists, guides) to support you in your sponsorship and; a Sponsor Fund to which you can apply for financial support.

1. Recruit 5-8 critical Welcome Circles members: Start thinking about who in their communities might be interested in starting a Welcome Circle. Look to people who are problem solvers with specific skill sets and diverse backgrounds and availability from your community.

2. Identify roles: Sponsor Circle Coordinator, Finance & Employment Team, Housing & Basic Necessities Team, Benefits & Healthcare Team, Welcoming & Local Orientation Team, Education & Language Team,  

 

3. Apply to become a Welcome Circle through SponsorCircles.org. Choose Ukraine and HIAS 

 

4. Create a work plan describing travel, housing, benefits, medical and mental health care, education & childcare, cultural connections, employment, transportation, fundraising, 

 

5. Make sure each person completes a background check.

 

6. Ensure that at least one member of your circle completes the sponsor circle course and knowledge check.

7. Make sure every sponsor circle member signs a code of conduct agreement.

 

8. Access resources and ask questions on the HIAS Welcome Circles Community of Practice, an online platform designed to help you connect with additional resources and guides, as well as with other circles around the country who are going through similar processes. You will get a login after becoming certified as a Welcome Circle. 

 

9. Fundraise.

10. Interested in forming a Welcome Circle in Westchester, Rockland County, Riverdale or Northwest Bronx? Email us at info@wjci.org to get more information.

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FORMING A WELCOME CIRCLE

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RESOURCES
& MICROGRANTS

EVENTS

 
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Join us on Wednesday, January 25th from 8-9 PM EST on Zoom for our Quarterly Info meeting. The speaker line-up is TBA, but be sure to register here in advance!

 

SOCIAL ACTION

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WJCI mobilizes congregations and individuals throughout the metro New York area with unique opportunities to support asylum seekers, refugees and other immigrants through various actions. 

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Access the Haggadah here.

Ukrainian Crisis Response
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WELCOME CIRCLES AND  MICROGRANTS

To support resettlement efforts for newly arrived Ukrainians, WJCI has created a microgrant program with generous funding from UJA--Federation of New York, Jewish Federations of North Americas (JFNA), and The Shapiro Foundation. If you, your synagogue, or your community organization are interested in sponsoring a Ukrainian family fleeing war, please email info@wjci.org with your name, organization name (if any), and location. Learn more about our Microgrant Program here.

 

We are providing grants to newly formed and certified HIAS Welcome Circles and are even serving as your own personal Welcome Circle Liaison to guide you through best practices. For more information about getting involved, please see our one-sheet on Welcome Circles. If you have already formed a Welcome Circle and need help raising funds, apply for a microgrant here

EDUCATION RESOURCES
&
CAREER COUNSELING

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To assist Ukrainians who need employment guidance, we have created a Google Form to match them with a career counselors. 

Fill out the form here or, access the Ukrainian version here. 

COMMUNITY &
SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Women’s Support Group for Recent Arrivals from Ukraine

If you are a recent arrival from Ukraine , Westchester Jewish Community Services will be offering a women’s support group. To learn more or get involved, please access these resources available in both English and Ukrainian.

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Highlights of Previous Actions

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WJCI members are volunteering at Port Authority where thousands of migrants are coming from the Southern Border. Jay L. Hack has been making hundreds of warm meals to help welcome them.

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We presented a concert for the Ukrainian community with Concerts in Motion. Together we enjoyed a concert performance by Gennadiy Vysotskiy (voice) and Olga Ivanenko (violin). 

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Thank you to Elena's Light for partnering with us on the Afghan Women's Circle! We have concluded our 5-week course and all attendees will continue working with their mentors to adjust to life in America.

 

EDUCATE

WJCI strives to educate our community about the issues facing refugees, asylees and other immigrants through multiple channels including town hall, seminars and quarterly informational meetings, newsletters and action alerts.

Highlights from Our 2022 World Refugee Day Event

Check out this video for highlights on our YouTube Channel

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Mama Faye from Senegal, owner of Taaru Majeure in Larchmont, sharing stories and selling beautiful items from her store, some made by Afghan women.

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Immigrants from Guatemala selling traditional food including empanadas and flautas. 

Learn About an Afghan Adjustment Act here and Why it is Important.

Meetings with Legislators

Meetings and conferences play a crucial role in protecting  refugees. WJCI members have met with legislative teams from New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, and with our local Congressional Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, and Sean Patrick Maloney to advocate for human rights and social justice for our local and national immigrant communities. These meetings are an opportunity for our members to speak out for those who do have a voice.

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UJA J-TEEN REFUGEE EDUCATIONAL DAY

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RIGHT TO COUNSEL

WJCI HOSTS RIGHT TO COUNSEL EVENT

WJCI hosted a unique community-wide "action" with Westchester Right to Counsel (R2C) as an introduction to the issue of the lack of right to counsel for families (low income, immigrant, people of color, etc.) who have been hit hard by the pandemic and may be facing eviction when the moratorium on evictions is lifted. It concluded with concrete steps that each community can impact our local legislators. Interested parties can share this registration link with their community:

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BORDER REPORT: CHILDREN IN NEED

WJCI hosted a countywide event to educate our community about advocating and providing support to immigrant children impacted by the situation at the southern border. Speakers included Rabbi Shoshi Levin Goldberg from Temple Israel Center, Andrea Rudnick from Team Brownsville, Eddie Chavez Calderon from Arizona Jews for Justice, Bertha M. Rodriguez, Esq. from Community Resource Center (CRC), and Marti Michael from Grannies Respond/Abuelas Respondent. WJCI also heard about how to help children from the border living in our community at the Abbott House in Irvington and Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry.

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IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS THROUGH A JEWISH LENS

WJCI’s December 2021, event "Immigrant Rights Through a Jewish Lens" added meaning and joy to the last night of Hanukkah as we lit the last Hanukkah candle, shared personal refugee stories, listened to Klezmer tunes from Jay Elliot, and learned from our impressive panelists Rebecca Kirzner, HIAS, Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson , T'ruah, Noelle Damico, The Workers Circle, Rabbi Les Bronstein, Bet Am Shalom Synagogue and Patrick Young, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC).

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ADVOCATE

 

WJCI advocates for policies that transform immigrants’ lives. We stand up for human rights and social justice around the major issues facing immigrants today, including citizenship, food insecurity, healthcare, housing, and employment.

LETTERS AND CALL CAMPAIGNS
See earlier actions here.

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Refugee Shabbat 2023 will take place on February 3 and 4. The fastest-growing European refugee crisis since World War II is still ongoing. People seeking asylum are being turned away at borders around the world. Held annually, Refugee Shabbat is an educational opportunity for congregations, organizations, and individuals to learn more and reaffirm our commitment to current immigration issues in the United States and around the world and dedicate a Shabbat experience to refugees and asylum seekers. WJCI is proud to be a HIAS regional co-sponsor of Refugee Shabbat.

 

And this year, for the first time ever, the total number of displaced persons globally is over 100 million. This is a critical moment for all of us to reaffirm and redouble our support for refugees and asylum seekers. Learn more about how you, your organization or your congregation can participate and sign up here.

WJCI offers a speakers' bureau covering a wealth of refugee and asylee experiences. We can help you build support and understanding for the stranger through Refugee Shabbat powered by HIAS. With more than 80 million people worldwide who have fled their homes due to persecution and violence, we are now witnesses to one of the most significant humanitarian crises in human history. Join synagogues throughout Westchester, the country and the world for this remarkable experience and reaffirm our commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. Learn more about Refugee Shabbat 2023 here.