On Wednesday, May 24, Michael Patterson, synagogue president, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, Rabbi Diana Fersko, Lori Schneider, director of our Early Childhood Center, and more than 25 other members of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue community will gather together in Athens, Greece, to kick off the synagogue’s inaugural Refugee Relief Mission.
Members of the Stephen Wise community of all ages, from Early Childhood Center and Religious School students to seniors, supported the mission through an extraordinary outpouring of supplies and donations: travelers will donate thousands of books and children’s art supplies and hundreds of hygiene kits directly to refugee shelters in Greece and Germany. They will also donate $15,000 to our NGO partners, IsraAID and NOSTOS, for critical refugee relief efforts.
“We are overcome with gratitude and pride for the overwhelming support for this critically important work,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch said. “We will carry the hearts of every member of the Stephen Wise community as we embark on this journey.”
During the 10-day mission, travelers will learn about the refugee crisis from experts in the region and offer support to those in need. Sites in Greece will include a refugee shelter in Athens for unaccompanied minors ages 7-17, a shelter for single mothers and their children, and Yazidi settlements. In Berlin, travelers will meet with high-level policymakers to learn firsthand about the resettlement of refugees. Finally, they will visit Holocaust sites — including Berlin’s Jewish Museum, accompanied by Yazidi refugees — to connect the Jewish story with the plight of today’s refugees.
For updates about the mission, visit our Facebook page and look for the hashtag #SWFSForRefugees on Instagram and Twitter. Tune in this Friday, May 26, at 9:30 a.m. (EST) for a short Facebook Live broadcast from Greece. (Check Facebook for scheduling updates; the video will remain online after the live streaming.)
To support the synagogue’s refugee relief work, fill out this secure form.
Photo: Religious School students sorted hundreds of supplies to help prepare for the mission, which will take place from May 23 to June 1.