A Home for All: The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

A Home for All: The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Kaveena Ponamgi

According to NBC news, there were 2.76 million people who immigrated to the United States in 2022. After a long journey to a new country, options are limited for the newcomers. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society aims to provide shelter. The fundamental principal of this organization is to practice faith and live life without fear of persecution.

Originally founded as a Jewish group, HIAS is now open to all immigrants. HIAS addresses needs, defends rights, and advocates for inclusion in American society through legal and social services. Their values consist of “Welcoming the stranger” – a core Jewish belief – and valuing all as equal members of society. From 2021-2022, they welcomed over 4,755 clients. This number skyrocketed to 6,902 during 2021-2022.

The situation is dire in Philadelphia. Residents born outside the US make up 15% of Philadelphia’s population [PEW Census]. Immigrants 16 and up are statistically more likely to work at a higher rate than native-born individuals. The work HIAS does helps prepare people for a future in a global village.

HIAS provides opportunities for student and adult volunteers. Interested volunteers must attend one of the monthly orientations, which will be virtual in the coming future. Some of the positions HIAS offers are letter writing, where volunteers write letters of compassion and solidarity to people in immigration detention, translators, in languages like Dari, Pasto, Creole, Spanish, French, Urdu, Ukrainian, Russian, Swahili, Tigrinya, and more, and advocacy positions. HIAS is an excellent way to meet new residents and help them adjust to American society.

Finding one’s place in the changing world is difficult for anyone, but from an entirely new country makes this task more daunting. Organizations such as HIAS help narrow it to a smaller community. Hopefully, this organization will continue to grow and evolve to aid more newcomers.