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Welcoming the Stranger

In December 2016, Ohr Kodesh joined the HIAS Welcome program and committed to actively engage in refugee issues and demonstrate our support in a meaningful way through education, advocacy and volunteering.          

With the Good Neighbors Program, OKC and a group of local synagogues and churches, agreeing to sponsor an immigrant or refugee family to promote and support independence and self-sufficiency. Partnering with Lutheran Social Services, the local resettlement agency, OKC agreed to a six-month commitment to furnish an apartment and assist a family with basic needs and orientation into their new home. A tremendous team of volunteers coalesced to meet the challenge.  

In August 2017, a family of four arrived from Iraq.  The father had worked for the US Army Corp of Engineers as a translator, thereby qualifying the family for Special Immigrant Visas (albeit after a long five years of extensive vetting).  We managed to fundraise, furnish an apartment, and assist the family with health and dental care, school enrollment, English language tutoring, employment, obtaining drivers licenses, car seats, baby clothes, and financial budgeting/banking. The family welcomed a new baby girl in January 2018.

Today, both parents are gainfully employed, their children are thriving in elementary school and childcare, and they have been able to move to Montgomery County.  This family has become more than a social action project, with many members developing deep long-term relationships that continue to grow and thrive.

This endeavor has allowed Ohr Kodesh to live the values of welcoming the stranger and reap the very personal and real benefits of these values.  

For more information on how to be involved, contact Lisa Kleppel.

Tue, December 1 2020 15 Kislev 5781