US Chesed News

Refugees and the United Synagogue
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Thursday 19th November 2015

This week the desperate situation of so many refugees and developing the United Synagogue response to this worldwide crisis has been very much in our minds. On Tuesday we had a meeting of interested shul members from Highgate, Barnet, Muswell Hill, Hampstead and Woodside Park synagogues together with Leonie Lewis a US Trustee, Rabbi Bergson, the Rabbi of Pinner Synagogue, Dan Bacall, Director of External Affairs in the Office of the Chief Rabbi and Michelle Minsky, Head of US Chesed.

The group heard about the Chief Rabbi’s visit to see the refugees in Idomeni in Northern Greece under the auspices of World Jewish Relief and Leonie’s visit to Calais as part of a multi-faith group, where she spoke to people from areas such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and the Sudan. We also listened to a talk by Diane Taylor, who was very involved in setting up the drop-in centre for refugees at the New North London Synagogue and who told us how they had gone about it, the services they offer, how many volunteers are involved and the costs incurred in running such a scheme. The group then discussed a number of different possible ways in which the members of the US could make a positive contribution, taking into account the complexity and constantly changing nature of the situation. If anyone has not been involved so far, but would like to do so, please get in touch. 

The next day it was the turn of the staff at the US Head Office to get involved. We were very fortunate in having Richard Verber, Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies and Campaign Manager for World Jewish Relief come and talk to us about refugee situation and the role being played by both organisations to assist. This was part of our Mitzvah Day at the US programme and was combined with a request for staff to donate tea, coffee and biscuits to the Barnet Refugee Service (BRS). The BRS will use this food to assist the destitute asylum seekers who they try to support

Lastly, if you do want to inform yourself on what is the current position regarding refugees or for recent updates on how you can help, please do go to, the website that offers a 1-stop Jewish response to the crisis.

All in all, quite a week.

Michelle Minsky

Head of US Chesed