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Resettlement Support

Resettlement Support

WJCI has provided various kinds of aid, including in-kind donations, which have benefited over 2,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants with different legal statuses. WJCI has also assisted in mobilizing more than 3,000 volunteers from local synagogues, churches, high schools, and colleges in Westchester and neighboring counties with unaffiliated individuals and members of all faiths. Many Rabbis from Westchester, Rockland County, and the NW Bronx continue to be involved with the organization's efforts and regularly stand on their pulpits to discuss issues of immigration and human rights.

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Israel Crisis

WJCI has been providing support for Israelis who are in the Westchester and NY area temporarily due to the current situation in Israel since the crisis erupted on October 7, 2023. Using our network of resources, volunteers, synagogues, and local organizations that have helped hundreds of refugees, we have been able to make connections for the Israelis and help them quickly at this time. UJA-Federation of New York's, our primary funder, mission aligns with ours as we help people in need and respond to crises by working with refugees by coordinating volunteer efforts from individuals, synagogues, local organizations, and social action groups. Our strength is in helping people and making connections to help people with resources that could be of assistance to them to help them settle. 

These are ways we have been helping Israelis to date:

  • Securing housing for temporary periods

  • Helping families enroll children in school through community connections

  • Assisting in seeking out mental health support through our partners, including Common Point Queens, The Jewish Board, and Westchester Jewish Community Services

  • Making community connections

 

We have helped around six families secure temporary housing, four in Manhattan. Volunteers have helped furnish these apartments; others have provided donations that have helped with emergency needs. We have also organized two get-togethers at JCC MidWestchester for families, giving community connections and a chance to rest with pizza, games for children, and resources for adults. 

Read more about our work here in the Scarsdale Inquire

Past Initiatives 

Image by Anastasiia Krutota

Welcome Circles 

To date,  more than 30 congregations have formed Welcome Circles to help refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine settle into their communities. There is a palpable willingness from congregants, educators, students, partners, and individuals to help immigrant communities and further WJCI’s goals. It is due to WJCI’s relationships with HIAS and community members that we were able to support the rescue of so many families. 

 

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. We are so proud of the more than a dozen groups who have welcomed families.

In early 2022, several months after the fall of Kabul, WJCI successfully funded 15 “Host Groups” (+2, as two were “repeaters”) and gave out $80,000 to the volunteers doing vital resettlement work to keep this population safe. 

These Host Groups consisted of individual volunteers - 1,500 and many organizations. Twenty five of the organizations were Jewish (synagogues, etc.) and 43 of the organizations were non-Jewish (churches, etc.). WJCI's grant money serviced a total of 90 Afghan Refugees, 43 of whom were adults and 47 of whom were children. 

 

To view our Host Group grantees, please click here

Image by Farid Ershad

Host Groups

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Microgrants

Since the fall of 2021, WJCI has given out over 30 microgrants to support the resettlement of 24 Afghan and 10 Ukrainian families seeking asylum through co-sponsorships and Welcome Circles, in partnership with HIAS. WJCI's microgrant program, created with generous funding from UJA--Federation of New York, Jewish Federations of North Americas (JFNA), and The Shapiro Foundation, have allowed us to support resettlement. 

 

We provided microgrants to over a dozen newly formed and certified HIAS Welcome Circles and even served as a personal Welcome Circle Liaison to guide them through best practices. Some of our funds covered expenses for emergencies such as medical expenses and some went to expenses to improve lives such as childcare so women can work and driving lessons. We are very proud of the efforts of our community members to save lives. 

Testimonials

Lead Volunteer, Rivertowns Welcome Circle

“I made a welcome party in the backyard for them, inviting some of my friends, some native speakers, all the members of the RWC (6 of us), and a few donors. They had a great time. Ilia played with the son of one of the RWC members (they were about the same age). They enjoyed speaking with people and visiting, the father remarked that he really liked the almond cake I made (!!), and I learned that at least one of the people at the party had further contact with them and brought over a TV and other furniture/useful home items.”

Larchmont Mamaroneck Welcome Circle 

The Larchmont Mamaroneck Welcome Circle helped Svitlana, age 33 and her son Ihor, age 13  by furnishing their house with supplies, paying for ESL classes, retaining tutors, and driving them to various activities and doctors’ appointments. The family arrived in Larchmont in April 2022 and have obtained asylum for a more permanent pathway to citizenship. About the volunteer experience, Linda, the lead on this family, states: “It is hard for me to even imagine the challenges that she has endured. Leaving her husband fighting the Russian army in the Ukraine. Coming without speaking the language here, knowing the culture, having the resources to make a go of it. Now, she has been in our country for over a year. She works three paid jobs. Her English is excellent, and her Instagram posts include pictures of her dancing in the local park.”

Rivertowns Welcome Circle 

The Rivertowns Welcome Circle welcomed a family of five in May 2023 including twin infants and a 11 year old boy. The wonderful group of volunteers has shepherded them to safety and one says this about the experience: “I think that our own lives and what we have in the States pales in significance when welcoming others fleeing war and the horrors that it brings. For a few of us to integrate an extra workload or even at times suspend what we need to do for our loved ones at home, it speaks volumes about humanity. I have seen my Welcome Circle team and countless other volunteers go above and beyond for a family of five from the Ukraine. “Angels” have flown our way again and again.”

Congregation Sons of Israel Welcome Circle

Nikita, 15, emigrated with his family from Mariupol, Ukraine in 2022 and now lives in Briarcliff Manor. They have  been  supported by the Congregation Sons of Israel Welcome Circle. When he mentioned to his Welcome Circle that he’d always wanted to play the electric guitar, Miriam and Mike Risko, who own a music store, school, and camp in Ossining, gave him a beautiful guitar, amp, and chord chart, along with eight half-hour lessons and a full scholarship to their Rock Band Camp!

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