A Note from Rabbi Ornstein 10/1/21
Dear Ohav Family:
Shanah tovah once again. On Yom Kippur eve, I spoke of the prophet Isaiah’s call to us to honor the true meaning of the Yom Kippur fast by performing acts of justice, mercy, and kindness towards those most vulnerable and in need. Applying his words to the impending immigration of Afghani refugees to our area, I said the following from the bimah: A few years ago, when Syrian and Afghani refugees were the new strangers in our midst, the Ohav family answered the call of our greater capital district community to welcome and guide them, to give them a hand in this new promised land. Today, at this very moment, the call needs to be answered again. The end of the horrible Afghan War and the ascension of the Taliban to power will bring in their wake the mass evacuation of thousands of Afghani refugees – individuals and families – to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa program. Albany has for many years been a major center of refugee resettlement and I’ve been assured by refugee activists and professionals that our area will be seeing more Afghanis making the capital district their home.
We, the children of the prophet who commanded us to let the oppressed go free; We, the distant and recent descendants of refugees; We, whom the great Maimonides called compassionate people descended from compassionate people; We have the opportunity to answer this newest call to welcome these newest refugees into our midst, to help them to heal from their traumas, to give them the hope of a new life here in our home. In the weeks to come, I will call upon our Ohav family to come together to discuss how we might make a difference, how we, former strangers in Egypt, might lift up and support these newest strangers in our midst. I thank those of us who answered the call in the past. I look forward to those in our family who will answer it in the future.
The future is now. Governor Hochul has informed our community that our region, one of the outstanding centers for refugee resettlement, will become home to at least 100 Afghani refugees in the future. I have already heard from a number of our Ohav family members about their readiness to help with different aspects of resettlement. I look forward to our coming together to determine how we can help this newest wave of refugees seeking shelter in our country.
All the best and Shabbat shalom,