SAN FRANCISCO - Each week we examine stories that affect people who live and work in the Bay Area.
This edition of Beyond the Headlines focuses on a major Bay area effort to show how people of different faiths and backgrounds can work together to help others.
This multi-faith group went to Greece with the humanitarian organization, IsraAid, to meet with refugees who came ashore, escaping the violence in Syria. The stories shared by the refugees are shocking and filled with heartache and despair. But, the Bay Area multi-faith group also learned the refugees were grateful to IsraAid for rescuing them and offering them food and shelter, mental health services, and connections with other aid agencies to help them move forward.
The rescue teams include Jews and Arabs, working together. The Syrian refugees were shocked to be rescued by Jews, whom they had been taught to hate. The Yazidi refugees were shocked to meet Muslims, because the refugees say Muslim ISIS terrorists tortured their families.
The rescues provided an uplifting and incredible opportunity to build bridges between these communities.
Rabbi Marvin Goodman
Newly retired from the Board of Rabbis of Northern California. He was the spiritual leader of the Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City for 19 years.
Co-Founder of the Jafria Islamic School in Pleasanton and is Regional Vice President for Mutual of America for Northern California.
Executive director of IsraAid, at the time of the recording
Rabbi Marvin Goodman sent an update about the situation from IsraAid, asking for help from all communities for the urgent refugee problem in Greece:
"The current urgency is because since September 2017, the number of new refugee arrivals on Lesvos Island, Greece, has doubled and currently there are 8400+ refugees on the island. Following their treacherous journeys by boat, the refugees on Lesvos are now in a challenging state of indefinite limbo. IsraAID more than ever needs to maintain its diverse team on the island.
Unfortunately, international media attention has almost entirely shifted from Greece and the Middle East refugee crisis which has meant that donations have dramatically dropped. IsraAID needs funding so they can continue these critical programs. Consequently right NOW, our support is critically important.
If IsraAID is to keep their mission in Lesvos open though 2018, the costs will be approximately $300k, which is 25k per month. (Their team is 1 project leader, 2 medical staff, and 2 social workers.) They currently have commitments from donors for about half of this amount, so they still need another $150k.
It's time for each of us to step up our fundraising efforts. Suggestions include:
- Each Rabbi/Muslim Community/ community leader could commit to raising $10k-$15k from one or more of her/his main donors - Yotam Polizer, co-CEO of IsraAid and the local IsraAID staff are available to talk with you and your donors about giving opportunities.
- Each Rabbi/Muslim Community/ community leader, on one of the upcoming Sabbaths, could speak about the crisis in their sermons and mention the urgency as a catalyst for fundraising.
- Each Rabbi/Muslim Community/ community leader in conjunction with IsraAID, could consider connecting their religious school children with children in the peace school, AND IsraAID is glad to consider volunteer trips for potential donors and their children to the school of peace. (this too would be a catalyst for fundraising)
I hope you sense of urgency of the need and the reality that without funding the work in Lesvos will not be able to continue.
May the coming year be one of fulfilled hope and peace for the refugees and for all of us."
United We REACH
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