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Congregational Position and Activities: Refugees and Immigrants

Hill Havurah supports efforts to facilitate long-term residency and citizenship for refugees and immigrants in the United States, to implement a fact-based and humane policy toward immigrants and refugees seeking entry into our country, and to support and advocate for just treatment of refugees and immigrants around the world. The Hill Havurah Board approved this policy in June, 2017.


Under Jewish law, it is a mitzvah to welcome the stranger. This mitzvah underpins our commitment to raise our voices in support of refugees and asylum seekers and educate ourselves about how we can best ensure them the chance to rebuild their lives and live in freedom.

As it is written in the Torah,“thou shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt,” (Exodus 23:9).

Our history has highlighted by tales of the righteous who have welcomed and given sanctuary to our people in their time of need, as well as infamous times in which nations turned their backs to our survival.


In 1939, 900 Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis were

denied entry to Cuba, the United States and Canada.

Forced to return to Europe, three-quarters of them perished in the Shoah.




Hill Havurah’s efforts on behalf of refugees and immigrants have developed in two areas. First, through the Good Neighbors of Capitol Hill (which is coordinated by Lutheran Social Services/National Capitol Area,) Hill Havurah and its Tikkun Olam committee support an interfaith effort to resettle refugees in our community. Participating congregations include Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Hill Havurah, Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, Christ Church-Washington Parish and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In addition to local resettlement efforts, Hill Havurah is a visible and proactive partner with other Jewish and community organizations in calling for America to continue its legacy of welcoming refugees to our shores. Along with the HIAS and 50 other organizations, Hill Havurah served as a co-sponsor of the #JewsForRefugees assembly in March 2017, to sound a rallying cry to the leadership of our country to continue welcoming those seeking refuge. The Tzedek Committee screens requests from other organizations for participation in activities that support our policy concerning immigrants and refugees,
and organizes Havurah activities that demonstrate our commitment to these goals.

50 Orgs.jpg


Hill Havurah, HIAS and more than 50 organizations in the

Washington, D.C. Jewish community have come together

and call for America to continue its legacy of welcoming refugees






Within the Jewish community, leadership for issues dealing with refugees and immigrants comes in large part from HIAS. This organization, which has helped more than 4.5 million people escape persecution. It expanded its programs in the 2000’s to assist non-Jewish refugees and is an active advocate for protection of refugees. Additional information on this organization can be found at


Recent Activities

Consistent with our Congregational Policy on humane treatment of immigrants and refugees, in June, 2018, the Tzedek Committee added Hill Havurah to a list of Jewish organizations writing Attorney General Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Nielson opposing policies that separate children from their migrant parents when the cross the border. Twenty six national organizations including HIAS, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, and Hadassah prepared the letter, stating that “separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in our immigration system.” The letter explains “our Jewish faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and compels our commitment to an immigration system in this country that is compassionate and just.”


On October 19, 2018, Hill Havurah participated with other congregations across the nation in National Refugee Shabbat.

Points of Contact
To support a local immigrant family through the Good Neighbors of Capital Hill, the Hill Havurah points of contact are: Rachel Usdan, and Sig Cohen,

To support of activities related to issue advocacy and special events through the Tzedek committee, contact Howard Crystal,

Sat, December 2 2023 19 Kislev 5784