Immigrant Justice Action Team

Welcoming the immigrant and refugee is embedded deep in the core of Jewish tradition. We are a people who wandered for thousands of years, facing expulsion, discrimination, and danger in countless lands. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to be diligent in our support for immigrants, refugees, and all those seeking safety and security in a new land. Beth Am’s Immigrant Justice Action Team participates in actions and advocacy to live the value of “welcoming the stranger,” a commandment mentioned 36 times in the Torah. We partner with and champion the work of many organizations, including HIAS, Jewish Family Service (JFS), International Rescue Committee, and the Jewish Coalition for Immigrant Justice Northwest (JCIJ-NW).

Want to get involved?

Email TBAImmigrantJustice@gmail.com to join the Immigrant Justice Action Team, receive our emails, and find out how you can get involved.

Resettling a Family Fleeing from Ukraine

Under the guidance of Rabbi Jason Levine and in partnership with the federal government and HIAS, Temple Beth Am created a Welcome Circle to sponsor a family from Ukraine. HIAS is in the process of matching us with a Ukrainian family that has been vetted by our government. The family will be admitted to the U.S. with humanitarian parole status, which allows them a temporary two-year stay in the U.S. with the ability to apply for employment authorization, but no path to citizenship.

Ten Temple members have committed to being directly involved as members of our Welcome Circle. With support from the whole congregation, they will be responsible for helping the Ukrainian family adjust to life in the Seattle area – including finding housing and jobs, managing finances, connecting to schools and healthcare, accessing public benefits, etc.

Through donations to the Temple’s Immigration Justice Fund, our congregation will provide financial support for what we hope will be approximately six months, and then we expect the family will be largely self-sufficient (though perhaps still needing some more assistance). We thank the generous group of first-round donors who have pledged a significant amount towards our fundraising goal. We are now asking everyone in our Beth Am community to consider participating in this mitzvah in whatever way is most comfortable for you. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Purchase Household ItemsPurchase Household Items – We have set up an Amazon wishlist where you can easily purchase basic household items for the family. This list will be updated frequently as we learn more about the family and their needs! Simply select your items and at checkout choose the shipping address: “Debbie Bermet’s Gift Registry Address”. Debbie is a Welcome Circle member who has agreed to store donated household items until move in day!
  • Offer Donated Items, Housing, and In-Kind Services – Once we know more about the family and their needs, we will be looking for housing, furniture, electronics, and in-kind services. If you are interested in donating items, your time, or skills, please see our list of needs (which will we continue to update!).
  • Donate – Just $50 can feed the family for a week, $75 can stock their pantry, $100 can cover a month’s electric bill and $750 can pay a third of a month’s rent. Click here to donate, and select “Immigration Justice Fund” under “Fund.”
  • Learn –Join us on Yom Kippur afternoon (2-3 pm) for a discussion about our Welcome Circle. RSVP here.

AIDNW Needs Our Help

AIDNW assists immigrants as they are released from detention at Tacoma’s Northwest ICE Processing Center (formerly called the Northwest Detention Center). After spending days, weeks, or months in detention, the newcomers are greeted by AIDNW volunteers who provide them with backpacks and seasonally appropriate clothing and help arrange transportation to their next destinations. This summer, Beth Am partnered with the sisterhood of Temple Beth El in Tacoma to provide sack lunches for travelers. Click here to learn about volunteering with AIDNW. Click here for an updated Amazon Wish List of AIDNW’s specific needs.

Afghan Refugee Resettlement Effort

In August 2021, a team from TBA, in collaboration with Congregation Beth Shalom, met with Jewish Family Service (JFS) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to welcome Afghan Refugees to Seattle and provide them with furnished homes. Over the next four months we helped collect items for two full households, and to manage the actual move-in. We organized volunteers, raised funds, and recruited in-kind donations to set up apartments for two newly arrived Afghan refugee families.

TBA Volunteers took on moving, storing, and setting up apartments. We collected over $6,000 of new household items for two families.  In addition, dozens of beautiful afghans were knitted for the family members.  Through our efforts, two families, newly arrived in our community, now have safe homes. And we continue to work with JFS and IRC moving in other families, providing citizenship classes and other help.

There are so many ways that we can continue to help “our newly arrived community members” feel safe and welcome.  Partnering with JFS and IRC has opened many more opportunities to engage including setting up more apartments, expanding legal support opportunities, or fulfilling other JFS and IRC volunteer support requests. The Torah tells us 36 times to “welcome the stranger,” and that’s exactly what we are continuing to do.

Learn about U.S. immigration policies:

  • Find out the differences between refugees and asylum seekers by clicking here or here.
  • Watch a free webinar on “Immigration for Beginners” or “Asylum for Beginners,” produced by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a local nonprofit advocacy group.
  • Join the efforts of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit.
  • See what the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center is doing to support immigrants.

Temple Beth Am 2017 Resolution for Immigrant Justice

With our Board of Directors’ action in 2017, Temple Beth Am joined a growing cohort of Reform congregations that signed the Religious Action Center’s Brit Olam (Covenant with our World) and declared themselves to be Immigrant Justice Congregations. Read the Board’s Resolution on becoming an Immigrant Justice Congregation here