March 24, 2023


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Our Faiths Call Us to Welcome Refugees and Immigrants


Religious Resources for Lent and Shabbat

Washington, DC – Ahead of Ash Wednesday, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) is releasing a booklet of nine Lenten reflections to guide individuals and congregations seeking to review how our faith-based values require us to demand a just and humane immigration system. Also during this time, IIC member HIAS is once again hosting its Refugee Shabbat, assisting congregations, organizations, and individuals in the United States and around the world with dedicating a Shabbat experience to refugees and asylum seekers.

“With hundreds of congregations across the United States and around the world participating, Refugee Shabbat is an opportunity for the Jewish community to raise our voices together loudly and clearly to say that we are committed to the paradigmatic Jewish value of welcoming the stranger. Based in our own refugee history and acting on our most deeply held values, we will ensure that we are doing all we can to make sure that the places we live enable refugees and asylum seekers to access their rights,” said Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, rabbi-in-residence and project manager for Refugee Shabbat at HIAS.

Repealing policies rooted in hate; strengthening paths of welcome; healing the wounds borne by families and individuals due to policies of rejection; and transforming our immigration laws into a system that honors and respects the inherent dignity of all people–these actions are all rooted in our faith-based values, which we must reflect on and renew to keep them alive.

For those celebrating, from Ash Wednesday through Easter, “Lenten Values: Springing into Action” features a reflection, story, action, and prayer for each holy day, matched to a corresponding immigration value.

With support from several other Jewish organizations, HIAS’ Refugee Shabbat program offers liturgical readings and sermon/D’var Torah guidance, a text study, a list of ways that people can take action, as well as a havdalah service on March 6 and an educational program on March 7. Information and registration links are available here.

Said Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries: “Our faith-based values of accountability, morality, community, love, compassion, unity, fairness, humaneness, and boldness form the foundation of our commitment to just treatment of refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. We created this resource to help us all strengthen the energies of our hearts and renew our efforts to live out these values. Now is a time of great urgency and potential in our nation, and people of all faiths can help us move towards a system that is aggressively anti-racist and entirely loving.

“Farmworkers in need of protections and benefits. Refugees praying for our nation’s hospitality to reopen. Asylum seekers awaiting due process. Families aching to be reunited. Men, women, and children being deported to violence, hoping instead that our country will show them compassion. These devotions, written by multiple faith leaders within the IIC, provide both a heart guide and action guide to confess, respond, and finally offer the promise of Resurrection Hope to all God’s children.”

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