An Immigrant’s Suitcase Inspires Memories, Laughter and Tears

For a few hours on December 8, 2019, friends of Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement (JCARR) stepped back in time. Under the direction of Debbie Chasen, a professional talent agent and Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven member, brave, non-professional models made their way down the staircase of the home of Risé Siegel and Ed Cantor. They wore outfits and accessories provided by Fashionista, a vintage fashion store in New Haven, showing the audience what might have appeared in an immigrant's suitcase. Jackie Chasen and Jesse Gosselin provided live musical entertainment, and Alan XYZ served as the emcee. Some of the guests wore vintage clothes and jewelry; they enjoyed sharing their stories about the grandmothers, great aunts and mothers who once wore them. 

Aminah Alsaleh not only prepared the all-kosher Syrian food that delighted attendees, she also modeled two robes. One of the robes was what an urban woman in Homs, Syria, would wear, while the other was an abaya typical of the Bedouin culture of Alsaleh's husband. 

Donations from the fundraising event enable JCARR to continue to resettle new refugee families and help them become integrated into the Greater New Haven community. JCARR was established in 2015 by five area synagogues and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
To make an online donation, visit  Checks can also be sent to the attention of Amy Holtz, payable to The Jewish Federation, with JCARR in the memo line, to The Jewish Federation, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge, CT 06525.
For more information, contact Jean Silk, JCARR's coordinator, at or visit
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