Sunday, January 15, 2017

Westchester Refugee Task Force at Congregation Sons of Israel Briarcliff Manor

Wed, January 11, 2017, Congregation Sons of Israel in Briarcliff Manor hosted the Westchester Refugee Task Force's "Stories of Escape and Resettlement."

We are in the midst of the worst global refugee crisis since World War II and yet instead of learning from our past mistakes and opening our doors and lending assistance to these people, facing danger, impoverishment and death, driven from their homes because to stay was almost certain death, we hear of our national and many local political leaders, quivering in fear that we might let a bad person in with all the deserving, preferring to shut the door, bolt the gates and stick their heads in the sand.
Prof. Mary Refling
With more than 300 members of the community present, from throughout central and northern Westchester, we heard four moving speakers tell of us of their own experiences. The first, Riva Silverman of HAIS, spoke of the evolving mission of HAIS from parochial to global, aiding refugees wherever the need arises. The second, Nya Chambang was a refugee who was lucky to escape South Sudan with her life, and is working now to help her people settle into safe villages. She is president of Thon Met African Peace Foundation. The third, Susan Smith of the Muslim Peace Fellowship told us of her experience as a volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece. The keynote speaker, Chris George, executive director of IRIS - Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services spoke of his experiences working with the issues of resettlement as the director of a state-wide program in Connecticut and gave us direction as to what we can and should be doing to help these people. It was informative, it was moving and it was inspirational.
Riva Silverman
The invocation and concluding statements were delivered by Rabbi Steven Kane of CSI, the event was mc'ed by one of the founders of the Westchester Task Force, Professor Mary Refling.

Rabbi Steven Kane


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Nya Chambang
Nya Chambang


Susan Smith



Chris George


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