ANSCHE CHESED REFUGEE ASSISTANCE

As Rabbi Kalmansofsky announced during the holidays, the Ansche Chesed community is becoming a Community Sponsor to help a refugee family resettle in New York City. Once assigned to an arriving family we will greet them at the airport, assist in securing and furnishing initial housing, help them connect with local services, and adapt to life in New York.

To accomplish these tasks, we need your help. We are already underway, building our volunteer committees and raising funds for this project. We believe in our mandate to Welcome the Stranger and know that our community contains the resources needed to help families resettle in our city and that together we can fill a needed role in refugee resettlement.

We’re asking for more than your financial contributions. Ansche Chesed is rich with the talent, skills, and commitment we’ll need to be successful. Committees will focus on different aspects of resettlement and each committee will have a number of subsets. Please read the following descriptions and let us know the areas where you might be able to help. Volunteers are not limited to one specific committee as the project’s needs will change over time.

Volunteering won’t necessarily mean that you will meet an arriving family right away. In order not to overwhelm our new neighbors, there is a limit on how many volunteers directly interact with the family. This is especially true during the first weeks, and even more so in the current Covid context. Whether you meet in person, by Zoom, or are behind the scenes, your help is needed!

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS PROJECT SEE THE FAQ

To indicate your interest:

Click the appropriate box (es), add any comments or questions, and include any specific skills or experience that may be relevant.

To make a financial donation to support Ansche Chesed’s work in supporting a refugee family, please click here.

A copy of the HIAS Guide for Home Volunteers which explains the process in much greater detail, is available by clicking here.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Community Sponsorship is a local solution to the global refugee crisis. It relies on harnessing the power of grassroots communities to resettle, assist and advocate for refugees.

Community Sponsorship is a public/private partnership between Resettlement Agencies and local faith and civic groups that effectively extends support for resettling refugees and increases their chances of successful integration and independence within their placed communities.

The Community Sponsorship Model improves on the long-term humanitarian tradition of welcoming in this country. It addresses gaps in our 40-year-old resettlement program. Under the existing U.S. Resettlement Program, refugees receive 90 days of government support which is managed through the Resettlement Agencies. After the first three months, refugees are left with little support, and often limited opportunities for community integration.
However, when neighbors come together as trained Community Sponsors to build scaffolding around resettling families, refugees are more likely to thrive in dignity and safety, integrate into the community, and find success as new Americans.

Because we truly want to be Ansche Chesed – People of Loving Kindness – and we believe in our mandate to Welcome the Stranger. Our community contains the resources needed to help families resettle in our city and can effectively fill a needed role in refugee resettlement.

We also believe that both as a community and as individuals we will learn from this process of direct engagement, creative thinking, and ethically-based responsibility as we reach across cultural divides to work with real human beings in need and help families different from – and also so like – our own.

Yes, certainly. We can donate to many organizations on the local and national level that assist refugees. We can and should advocate on their behalf with our elected officials. We can run food, clothing and furniture drives and direct these resources to local distribution agencies. These are all valid ways to help. However we believe that actively supporting a single family is our community’s best interpretation of the command to Welcome the Stranger.

After families are approved they are assigned to one of nine resettlement agencies who take responsibility for their case. These agencies work with community sponsors like Ansche Chesed based on the needs of the family. We expect to work with either HIAS, IRC, or Catholic Charities, three of the resettlement agencies active in the NYC area.

In brief, our role will be to greet a refugee family at the airport, assist them in securing and furnishing initial housing, connecting with local services, and adapting to life in New York. This will include finding an affordable apartment, helping with job searches, and assisting in obtaining necessary medical and dental care. We will make a financial commitment to supplement their needs for up to a year although in many cases members of the family are employed and self-sufficient in less time.

Most of all, this project needs savvy, compassionate New Yorkers with a little time and the motivation to help. Your common sense and life experience will be invaluable to this project.

Much depends on the size of the family and our ability to locate affordable housing. HIAS has a broad estimate of $14,000 for a single individual to $40,000 for a larger family. We have spoken with other synagogues in the NYC area who have resettled families and we have set our initial fund-raising goal at $30,000. If, as others have done, we have a surplus, we will be able to use it to assist another family.

The Resettlement Agencies require us to have certain funds on hand prior to assigning a family. In part this is because they need to be confident in our ability to follow through and also because there will be a number of front loaded costs in securing and furnishing the apartment.

We hope that we will be able to find housing in a neighborhood with familiar faces, near people from their own country or community. We will target our search in areas where shops and community organizations reflect the family’s background.

Yes! We view this as our biggest challenge. But a challenge, not an impossibility. Do you know someone who might help? Can you assist in this search?

Yes, but it is seldom sufficient. Each family member receives a one time stipend upon arrival and is entitled to Medicaid, SNAP and other benefits depending on circumstances. However until family members are employed there is invariably a shortfall.

Only some of our volunteers will actually interact with the family; others will do behind-the-scenes work. If you are concerned about interacting with arriving families there is absolutely no need to do so and there are still many ways to be involved.

According to HIAS, all clients from Afghanistan who arrive from military bases are vaccinated. However we will work to confirm their exact status and inform volunteers who may interact with the family.

We will require that volunteers who meet directly with the family or attend an in-person meeting to be vaccinated.

Volunteer and join with other Ansche Chesed members working on the many aspects of this project.

The HIAS Refugee Resettlement Guide provides an in depth look at the process and how the institution and volunteers operate.