JCARR NEWS March 10, 2024

On Friday evening, March 1st, Congregation Mishkan Israel observed Refugee Shabbat, an annual tradition begun by HIAS several years ago. Five of the families most recently settled by JCARR were in attendance. Four of the families stood on the bimah and spoke in deeply emotional terms about their experiences of coming to America and their profound gratitude to JCARR volunteers.

An older couple from Iraq remembered their surprise when a JCARR volunteer, even older than they, brought them to their medical appointments. A young man from Syria described his relief upon finding safe haven for his mother and sister. A Syrian father of five told about his family’s ten-year sojourn in Turkey as they awaited permission to come to the U.S. These Muslims all spoke in Arabic, and the congregation heard expert translation by a Moroccan interpreter.

A Christian family from Angola spoke in French, translated by CMI’s music director, about the differences and similarities in our faith traditions. An Afghan father, a Muslim Pashto speaker, did not stand on the bimah because of security concerns, but later assured us that he thoroughly enjoyed the service.

If you travel to Hartford, you may come upon a bronze sculpture of a family: The father, holding a Bible, is on bended knee in a position showing his humble gratitude. The piece is called “The Safe Arrival,” and it includes the words, “He who brought us here sustains us still.” This is the translation of our state motto which appears on our flag: Qui transtulit sustinet. All of the guests at Refugee Shabbat have been transplanted to what Nathaniel Hawthorne described as “unaccustomed earth.” They have suffered and struggled, yet they have experienced a safe arrival and have been sustained both by their own faith and by the efforts of JCARR

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