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"The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God."

- Leviticus 19:34
 

Our Mission: Grounded in Jewish values, the Temple Isaiah Welcoming the Stranger (WTS) team works to welcome immigrants and refugees to the United States and support them as they transition to life in their new home.

How We Do Our Work: Collaborating with resettlement agencies and Jewish and interfaith organizations, WTS supports immigrants and refugee individuals or families throughout their resettlement. This work involves direct service volunteer activities and financial assistance. Our efforts are supplemented by financial contributions to Temple Isaiah's Welcoming the Stranger Fund.

Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the question you're most interested in, or scroll down to read them all.
 
 
WTS is a volunteer lay-led group dedicated to supporting a refugee family or individual throughout their resettlement experience.
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Core group members take on roles including:
- Team leader
- Budget & Finance coordinator
- Volunteer coordinator
- Healthcare coordinator
- Legal / Paperwork coordinator
- Education coordinator (for children)
- English language coordinator (for adults)
- Transportation coordinator
- Cultural mentor
- Communications coordinator (write updates for temple community)
 
We encourage temple members who are not part of the core team to join in the sacred work of welcoming the stranger.
There are three main ways you can help: 
- Financial contributions to the Temple Isaiah Welcoming the Stranger (WTS) Fund, which is used exclusively in support of WTS activities
- In-kind gifts (furniture, kitchenware, etc. as needed)
- Volunteer time
 
No special skills are required! All volunteers are crucial to the success of the WTS team, taking on tasks like moving furniture, providing rides to appointments, or simply taking a walk and sharing social time and English practice with the family.
Educators, medical professionals, attorneys, or financial professionals can bring their knowledge and experience to this work. 
Some volunteers might choose to work “behind the scenes” rather than working directly with the family.
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There is no minimum time requirement. Whether you choose to be involved on a regular basis or for an individual task, you will be benefiting the refugees in a meaningful way.
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No! WTS deeply values the partnerships we have with refugee resettlement agencies, Jewish and interfaith partner organizations, as well as the institutional support of Temple Isaiah. 
Many WTS members are also longtime volunteers and leaders with the Lexington Refugee Assistance Program (LexRAP) and have extensive experience in refugee resettlement work.
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WTS is a well-established Temple Isaiah committee whose current mission is to welcome immigrants and refugees to the United States and support them as they transition to life in their new home. 
Future work might include political advocacy on behalf of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, or a return to our role, in partnership with a group of local houses of worship, as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation.
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WTS works in close partnership with resettlement agencies to access maximum local, state, and federal benefits for the refugees.
We also provide financial support through the Temple Isaiah Welcoming the Stranger Fund, which is supported by contributions from Temple Isaiah and community donors.
Examples of how the WTS Fund is spent include (but are not limited to):
- Subsidize rent and utilities 
- Subsidize food costs
- Enable refugees to maintain cell phones 
- Provide transportation assistance as needed
- Enroll refugees in English classes
- Enable American cultural family outings like zoo or museum visits
Contributions to this fund are not earmarked for specific uses, but are spent at the discretion of the committee, with support and guidance from Temple Isaiah’s Vice President of Tikkun Olam.
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From October 2021 to June 2022, WTS supported a family of 7 who fled Afghanistan in fear for their safety. In October 2023, our team welcomed another family, this one a mother and two children who were fleeing war-torn Ukraine after the street where they lived was turned to a pile of cinderblocks and rubble. We met them at the airport and took them to an Isaiah congregant’s home where they lived and thrived (kids in school, Mom found a job close to home) for six months until the end of April 2023, when they decided to return to the Ukraine to be with their family and friends and to support their country. At this time, the team is currently exploring opportunities to support a new family.
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The work of welcoming the stranger is something the Torah commands us 36 times to do. As this is such an important idea, the Torah does not give us an option simply to act kindly to the stranger. Rather, the Torah is direct and unequivocal in its commandment to love the stranger, for we as Jews were once strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34).
It is a safe assumption that most of us have ancestors who have fled persecution; some of our members themselves have emigrated here in the hope of a better life. WTS is a deeply meaningful opportunity to recognize and honor not only what was endured, but how we prevailed.
It is precisely because we are Jewish that we extend hope and protection to those who have few options and little hope.
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Please email team leader and temple member Don Detweiler to get updates on potential new refugees coming to our area, and to learn about opportunities to help. Check out the full history of Welcoming the Stranger at Temple Isaiah here.
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Sat, March 2 2024 22 Adar I 5784