Refugee Shabbat

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) is partnering with American Jewish refugee organisation HIAS to promote ‘Refugee Shabbat’ this weekend (5th and 6th March).

The idea of Refugee Shabbat is to raise awareness of refugee issues, and to show how we can help refugees in need. This year this is particularly relevant, given that more than 600,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes due to the Russian invasion, with another 4-7 million expected to follow. This comes just months after refugees starting to leave Afghanistan, and in a week when the House of Lords is debating the controversial ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’, which seeks to fundamentally change the way refugees are allowed to come to the UK.

Dr Edie Friedman, JCORE’s founder and executive director said: “We are delighted to be partnering with HIAS on this initiative. It is important that we don’t forget what today’s refugees are going through, especially given our community’s own refugee experiences. We have seen some horrific scenes from Ukraine over the past few days and we need to do all we can to help”.

On the subject of the Nationality and Borders Bill, she added: “We are also pleased that the House of Lords has this week voted against elements of this bill which sought to divide refugees on their method of entering the UK, and cruelly institute a two-tier asylum system.

It is critical that our community continues to stand firmly against this legislation, which so strongly negates our Jewish values, when it returns to the Commons later this month.”

This Shabbat there will be special sermons at a number of synagogues, but JCORE is hoping this will be the start of a year of increased awareness of refugee issues, beyond this weekend's events.

Ahead of Refugee Shabbat, JCORE has produced a community briefing on the Nationality and Borders Bill, the response to Ukraine and situation facing Afghan refugees, which you can download here.