Our Commitment To Syrian Immigrants Comes From Our Roots

11/22/2015 - 19:00

More than any other people, the Jewish people know precisely when and where the Syrian refugee crisis first began.  Every year, every Jew, at every Passover Seder table recites the words “Arami Oved Avi.”  Sometimes translated as “My father was a wandering Aramean,” sometimes translated as “An Aramean sought to destroy my father,” we recall the plight of our forefather Jacob who fled the hostile conditions of his Aramean surroundings.  Aram, as many may know, is the Biblical name for the land that up until recently we all called Syria.  “Come and learn,” we call out to each other at the seder table, “what Laban the Aramean sought to do to our father Jacob.”   Jacob was a refugee twice over, first having taken flight from the murderous intentions his brother Esau, and now in this past week’s Torah reading, seeking refuge from the hostile pursuit of his father-in-law Laban.  “My father was a wandering Aramean.”  Year after year we come back to the core text of the core ritual that lies at the very heart of who are as a people.   The very first Syrian refugee was a Jew – not just any Jew, but the very patriarch who would go on to become Israel, the namesake for our entire people.

Tracking Tenement Gems

The stone faces that look at us from New York City buildings are called grotesques. On the Lower East Side, they form another layer in the city’s immigrant history.

Russian Seniors Cry Foul

12/12/2002 - 19:00
Staff Writer
Inside the front door of Viktor Bash's apartment at the Arlene and David Schlang Pavilion in Brownsville, Brooklyn, are two pages of detailed safety instructions to be used in the event of an emergency. In the fifth-floor hall hangs a notice that a Dec. 4 tenants' meeting has been canceled. The federally subsidized housing project's management recently distributed detailed instructions about the city's new recycling laws.

Russians Long For Clout

03/13/2003 - 19:00
Staff Writer
When the city's Districting Commission earlier this year approved a plan that split Brighton Beach in two, some say it weakened the political power of Russian-speaking new immigrants in south Brooklyn. But the long-term effect may be the opposite. Galvanized by what many feel was a raw deal, Russian-Jewish activists more than ever are making themselves heard, exhibiting a "don't tread on me" attitude that is as classically New York as it is alien to the mores of Moscow, Kiev or Minsk.

Translator To Aid Russian Seniors

12/26/2002 - 19:00
Staff Writer
After weeks of complaints from Russian-speaking residents at its senior housing complex, Brookdale Hospital has hired a full-time translator to aid them. "We have been informed that a person has been hired as a HUD coordinator to work on housing benefits, and will also provide language assistance services for Russian-speaking residents," said Rose Cuison-Villazor of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

Israel Evens Aid Package For Immigrants

10/23/2002 - 20:00
Staff Writer
New immigrants from the United States, Canada and Great Britain will receive the same financial aid package as those from other countries under a proposal that won the support this week of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The cabinet must approve the plan before it takes effect Dec. 1. “It means that there are no more rich Jewish communities and communities in distress,” said Yuli Edelstein, deputy absorption minister and a proponent of the change.

Refuseniks: Israeli Gov’t Neglecting Us

01/07/1999 - 19:00
Staff Writer
Jerusalem — Yosef Begun, one of the more high-profile Soviet refuseniks of a decade ago, shook his head and whispered, “We’re forgotten heroes.” Begun, a former electrical engineer who spent 17 years as a refusenik — 10 in prison and in exile — now lives here at the age of 66 on 2,600 shekels ($650) a month. The poverty level in Israel is 2,500 shekels.
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