Our Jewish redemption story centers on a rescue at sea. The parting of the Red (or Reed) Sea as described in the book of Exodus is the paradigm our own people’s redemption from ancient slavery and oppression, remembered in our prayers and holiday observances throughout the year. Today, we are facing a global refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, causing many desperate people to seek their own freedom at sea, but this time on overloaded boats in the Mediterranean. What will be our response?

By USHMM, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17639341Many Jews today also remember the desperation of parents and grandparents who sought freedom from Nazi oppression as refugees at sea, but were turned back from British Mandate Palestine, and even from the United States. Today we can help vulnerable refugees or people in danger of becoming refugees, by supporting groups like HIAS, the premier Jewish organization to aid refugees and immigrants, The AJWS (American Jewish World Service) East Africa Crisis Fund, and Doctors Without Bordersdepicted in the video above. It’s really wonderful when we can get involved with groups in your own locale who are working to resettle refugees; such as this local group in my area of Westchester New York. I’m proud to say that some members of my synagogue (themselves children of refugees from the Nazis) and their neighbors are getting ready to sponsor and welcome a refugee family with the help of our local faith communities. Indeed, faith-based organizations are the main resettlement agencies for refugees in the United States.

Please share in the comments if you and your community are involved in helping refugees.

Join in the Sharing Circle to share your own spiritual experiences with the Sea, or return to the Gateway of the Sea.