Bnai Keshet National Refugee Shabbat: Syrian Refugee Food, Refugee Speakers, Youth Benefit Concert

Bnyad Sharef is an activist who advocates for refugee and immigrant rights; he grew up in Iraq

Montclair’s Bnai Keshet will host a weekend of activities October 19-21, for National Refugee Shabbat, part of a nationwide effort by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, to educate and train participants on issues and ways to help detained immigrants and asylum seekers.

The event-filled weekend kicks off Friday Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. with Shabbat dinner prepared by Syrian refugees, followed by a forum on refugee issues with experts and recent and former refugees. On Saturday, October 20, from 7:30-10 p.m., there is a youth-directed benefit concert for Make the Road New Jersey. The weekend closes on Sunday, Oct. 21, with a 90-minute presentation from 2:00-3:30pm by the Newark nonprofit, First Friends, for anyone who’d like to learn how to help detained immigrants and asylum seekers with visitations, resettlement assistance and advocacy. All events will be held at Bnai Keshet, 99 So. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair.

“Bnai Keshet’s activities for National Refugee Shabbat are for area congregations, organizations and individuals who want to deepen our understanding of today’s global refugee crisis, connect with the Jewish movement for refugees and commit to taking action,” BK organizers Beth Rubin and Maya Grosz said. “Our weekend will also relate to current issues, reflecting our congregation’s commitment to sanctuary for and advocacy on behalf of the undocumented.”

Friday, October 19: Shabbat Dinner and Educational Forum on Refugee Issues

6:30pm: Dinner at Bnai Keshet prepared by recent refugees to New Jersey from Syria, as part of United Tastes of America. Come for dinner ($20 a person) or join us at 7:15pm. Sign up here to join us for dinner:

7:15pm: a panel of experts and recent and past refugees discuss the current crisis and tell their stories. Speakers include Abdul Alargha, Ivan Grosz, Bnyad Sharef and Lori Nessel. Their bios are below.

Saturday, October 20: Benefit Concert for Make the Road NJ

7:30-10:00pm Youth-directed show at Bnai Keshet to benefit Make the Road New Jersey, an organization dedicated to immigrant rights advocacy and legal defense. Multi genres of music, spoken word, art and food. Suggested donation of $30.

Sunday, October 21: First Friends Presentation on Immigrants and Refugees in Detention and Volunteer Opportunities for Support and Advocacy

Time 2:00-3:30pm A 90-minute interactive presentation at Bnai Keshet by First Friends, a non-profit organization that serves immigrants and asylum seekers held in detention in local detention centers through volunteer visitations, resettlement assistance and advocacy.

For more information or to help with any of these events, call 873-746-4889 or contact

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