by Julie Fisher, OSRUI Alum
Our OSRUI Alumni are doing amazing work in our world, and we love to highlight it! This blog was originally posted on ReformJudaism.org.
In June each year we mark World Refugee Day. Lately, it seems that all our days are refugee days.
According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), we are living in a time with the greatest amount of displacement ever recorded. Newspaper headlines show the suffering of children being torn from their parents as they flee violence, seeking asylum in the United States. Refugees are a part of the global conversation and the human experience in almost every country on earth.
Here in Israel, where I currently live, I spend my days assisting the refugees who walked across deserts seeking safety from genocide, violence, war, and forced conscription. The global refugee crisis is a part of daily life, both for those who are struggling to find safety themselves, and for those, like my friends and neighbors, who are reaching out to help them.
Growing up in the Reform Jewish community through my synagogue and summer camp, URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI, I learned at an early age about the connections between the teachings in the Torah and our everyday actions to make the world a better place. Multiple times in the Torah we are beseeched to care for the stranger among us. This message is powerful and real for me as I advocate for the asylum seekers who live just 20 minutes from my house…
Julie Fisher is an educator, volunteer, and human rights advocate. She founded the Consortium for Israel and the Asylum Seekers, a group that serves as an access point for anyone interested in learning, volunteering, or sharing their resources to assist the asylum-seeking community in Israel and to support the inspirational Israelis who are leading the way. Julie met her husband, Dan Shapiro, at URJ Olin-Sang Ruby Union Institute. Before she and Dan, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and their three children, moved to Israel, she was a teacher in Boston and Washington, D.C.