Dear JCA Community,
Displacement and migration are central elements of the story of the Jewish people, from antiquity through the modern era. Whether we draw upon the experience of the Israelites who were “strangers in the land of Egypt” or those who fled the horrors of the Shoah, an ethical and religious commitment to support and welcome immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers is fundamental for many Jews today.
With the news last week of record numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Portland, our community sprang into action. We are proud to be a part of a strong network of service providers, including synagogues, that have prioritized this work for many years. Michael Klahr Jewish Family Services immediately sent infant formula and over 1,000 diapers to the Expo center.
In partnership with the National Diaper Bank Network and Huggies, we now have the opportunity to bring a tractor-trailer full of diapers to Portland for just the cost of shipping: $6,000. Through the support of a generous donor, we have already raised $500 toward this initiative. In addition, there is huge impetus within the Center Day Camp community to offer time at Sebago Lake to families and kids who would benefit from it, and we are working closely with the City to determine how our facility can be a resource, both this summer and beyond. We have a number of campers coming to CDC this summer whose families arrived as asylees or refugees during earlier waves of migration.
We have had messages throughout the week from supporters and friends who have been eager to develop a coordinated Jewish Communal response that will demonstrate our unique commitment to care for our newest neighbors. If you would like to participate in building the JCA’s capacity to ensure this work can expand as needed to reach additional families and individuals, please do so through this link; you can also call us, or send a check to the JCA with the memo “Asylum Seeker Support”. As the needs of the community become clearer over time, your support will ensure that we are poised to make our programs – from Center Day Camp to the Food Pantry to our Afterschool programs – meaningfully available.
There are so many ways to get involved, including through volunteering through Preble Street or the United Way, as well as by making donations directly to the City or community organizations. As information becomes available and priorities shift and change over time, we will continue to provide updates through our social media feeds and blog posts on the JCA website, and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you so very much for your generosity and vision. Together we help to create a vibrant community where all are welcome.
Molly Curren Rowles
JCA Executive Director