Refugee Shabbat at Ansche Chesed

October 19th through 21st, 2018 Ansche Chesed will be a proud participant in HIAS’ National Refugee Shabbat, during which Jews across the country will take action for refugees.

In the face of unprecedented attempts to close America’s doors to those seeking freedom from violence and persecution, this is a critical moment to give voice to our values as Jews and as Americans.

HIAS National Refugee ShabbatOver this Shabbat, the American Jewish community will dedicate sacred time and space to refugees and asylum seekers. Together, we will learn about the global refugee crisis, connect to the national Jewish movement for refugees, celebrate local acts of welcome and recommit to putting our values into action.

Here’s what’s happening at Ansche Chesed:

Community Read

Community ReadTo help us gain a common perspective on refugee issues start by reading The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is The Displaced, a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC). This book is available at your local bookstore, or on Amazon.



Shabbat Dinner

Friday, October 19, 2018 6:30 – 9:00PM

Ahmed BadrHear Iraqi Refugee, Ahmed Badr a 20-year-old writer, social entrepreneur, poet, speaker – and former refugee about his personal experience. On July 25th, 2006, Ahmed’s home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. He and his family relocated to Syria as refugees for two and a half years before receiving approval to move to the United States.

Struggling to understand and feel comfortable in his identity as a teenager, and as an Iraqi and fitting in as an American, Ahmed found strength and healing in writing. Feeling empowered through writing and telling his story, wanting to give other young people the same outlet, Ahmed founded Narratio, where young people from around the world submit stories, essays, and poems to share their experiences and express themselves – and by sharing their stories, bring people together.

We especially invite members of our teen community to come and hear Ahmed share the story of his experiences and how it shaped his identity.

Please Register

Listen to his TedX Teen Talk Here.


AC Tween Book Club

Saturday, October, 20 12:45 -2:00PM

RefugeeKids in Grades 5 through 8 are invited to our “AC Tween Book Club” to discuss the award-winning book “Refugee” by Alan Gratz, facilitated by Rabbi Yael and Sheila Lewis.

What does a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939, a Cuban girl on a raft bound for America in 1994, and a Syrian boy traveling to Germany in recent time, have in common? Join us to find out what became of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud in their intertwining stories, and to discuss what YOU would do, if you were in their shoes.

Kids are encouraged (though not required) to read “Refugee” ahead of time. It’s available for purchase at Bank Street Books and Book Culture, and online. Please take lunch from the Community Kiddush in Hirsh Hall after the Sanctuary Service, then join us with your lunch on the 3rd floor at 1PM for the Tween Book Club.

Please Register

Interfaith Havdalah

Saturday, October 20, 6:30 – 8:00PM
St. Paul & St. Andrew Church 86th & West End Avenue

Interfaith HavdallahSeveral Churches in our neighborhood provide sanctuary to people facing immediate deportation. As part of Refugee Shabbat, Upper West Side members of the Synagogue Coalition for the Refugee and Immigration Crisis are joining to host an Interfaith Havdalah to support these efforts.

As we celebrate the beginning of a new week and focus on the work needed in our community, we’ll join with our neighbors to assist a woman and her daughter for whom St Paul & St Andrew provide sanctuary. We’ll hear from Mark Hetfield, the President and CEO of HIAS, as well as from SPSA Senior Pastor K Karpen about SPSA’s efforts.

Hazzan Hirschhorn will lead Havdalah and inspire us with music. We’ll also hear from others about how we can support those in sanctuary and have time for refreshments and conversation with our neighbors.

Please Register

First Friends – Learn about visiting and supporting asylum seekers in detention

Sunday October 21, 2:00 – 4:00PM

First Friends of New York and New JerseyFirst Friends of New Jersey and New York provides visitors and other support within immigration detention centers, helps detainees who have been released, and advocates for a more just immigration system.

In this program you will learn about the operation of the largely for-profit detention system and what you can do to assist immigrants in detention. Several AC members visit detained immigrants with First Friends and have found this a deeply meaningful way to “welcome the stranger.”

about the detention system and how to help. The program will include a Speaker and short film from First Friends, a brief talk by a recently released immigrant, and an opportunity for discussion and questions.

 After learning about the issue, you will have the opportunity to take action. Action items will include writing notes and letters of support to people in detention, filling out postcards to elected officials advocating on behalf of detained immigrants, and learning about visiting detention centers or being a pen pal to a detained person.

items for the First Friends – Stamp Out Despair program:

  • For people in immigration detention: paper, notecards, stamps, folders
  • For recently released people: subway farecards, old cellphones, winter

Please RSVP

Refugee Shabbat, coinciding with parshat Lech Lecha, offers us an opportunity to focus our attention on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. Plan to join us at one or more of these events and, in this New Year, let us turn “Welcome the Stranger” from a teaching to an action plan.