As the “high holidays” are now upon us, we would like to briefly update the community on what has been happening over the past year regarding the DJC’s initiative to sponsor a Syrian refugee family:

Since last fall, when the appeal was made from the bimah to the community for sponsorship funds, with your very generous support, we raised over $58,000.

Working with Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) of Toronto, we were matched to a Syrian Kurdish family of seven with five children between the ages of one and 11 years old. The family is currently living in northern Iraq, but is not in a refugee camp. The application for this family was submitted to the federal government at the end of February and is currently with the visa post in Jordan for processing.

While most of the families being sponsored through JIAS Toronto have already been interviewed (a key step in their processing), five are still waiting, including the family the DJC is sponsoring. All those still waiting are being processed through Jordan, so the delay is not an issue specific to these families and their applications, but rather to the processing center. JIAS is following up with the federal government on these files, and we remain hopeful that the government will make good on its commitment to bring all remaining families whose applications were submitted prior to March 31, 2016 to Canada by the end of 2016 or early in 2017.

To prepare for the family’s arrival, our committee has been meeting regularly since last September. We recruited additional volunteers and have now collected all the furniture and almost all the household goods the family will need. Our community has been wonderful in providing these basic necessities. The self-storage facility, RealStorage, has been extremely generous to us by providing free storage for all these items.

We have also attended training sessions, provided education for our volunteers and the broader DJC community, gathered information and resources and organized ourselves into teams to provide direct support to the family. We also recruited a team to support a newly arrived government-assisted refugee (GAR) family in April, so we now have some practical experience.

At last springs’s Annual General Meeting, we also presented a repot to the Board and the general membership. Download and read the report now.

Best wishes for a “shana tova” – a healthy and happy new year.

– Sharron Kusiar (Chair, DJC Social Justice Committee)

– Kathy Glazier (Project Lead, Syrian Refugee Initiative)