Community Politics Towns

South Orange Synagogues, Locals Host ‘Welcome Home’ Dinner for Refugee Family

The following is from Rabbi Dan Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel:

Last fall, three synagogues in South Orange, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, Beth El Congregation and Congregation Oheb Shalom, set out to help resettle at least one refugee family and give them a new start in South Orange-Maplewood. The first family, refugees from the devastation in Syria, arrived in mid-January.

A newly arrived refugee family from Iraq are hosted for dinner. Photo Credit: Buzz1441
A newly arrived refugee family from Iraq are hosted for dinner. Photo Credit: Buzz1441

Two weeks ago they were asked to take in a second family.  The short notice presented a challenge with regard to finding proper housing. That challenge was met thanks to the commitment of AirBnB and the graciousness of the Bennett family of West Orange who are providing temporary housing while a longer-term solution is found. The second family, a family of six who fled Iraq, arrived last week and are adjusting well.

South Orange VP Sheena Collum at dinner with a newly arrived family from Iraq. Photo Credit: Buzz1441
South Orange VP Sheena Collum at dinner with a newly arrived family from Iraq. Photo Credit: Buzz1441

The Bennetts held a “welcome home” dinner gathering where Micaela Bennett noted, “our family and our community has grown by six and we are thrilled you are here.” South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, Trustee Stephen Schnall, Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca, West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi and Rabbi Dan Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel joined for the celebration.

The success of this endeavor has only been possible thanks to the commitments of countless members of the three synagogues and other members of the SOMA community. Funding has come from a GoFundMe Campaign that has thus far raised of $64,000. Because the community is committed to continuing this important work and welcoming additional refugees, the campaign is still active.

Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/help-resettle-refugee-families.

All photos are credit Buzz1441.

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