Relations between Israel and Syria have been tense since the mid-1990s — the nations have fought against each other in several wars, and have never had formal diplomatic relations.
Yet when Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Vancouver’s Temple Sholom asked his congregation for donations to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, he received $40,000 within a few days.
“This is our story as human beings, it’s particularly our story as Jews — we have been ourselves refugees throughout our time all the way back to the times of the Bible,” said Moskovitz, senior rabbi at the Oak Street synagogue.
“It says 36 times in the Bible in the Old Testament to love the stranger, to love the refugee, because you were once strangers, you were once refugees yourself,” he told B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.
“You don’t repeat something 36 times in the Bible unless it’s really, really important, and this is our obligation to see ourselves as them and to do what we can to save lives.”
The temple is working with Mosaic immigrant services organization, the Jewish Federation of Vancouver and the Anglican Archdiocese to sponsor a young family which has relations in Vancouver, but need sponsorship support to leave the refugee camp where they live.
Some of Vancouver’s other synagogues have also agreed to work with these organizations to sponsor one or two refugee families. Moskovitz said $40,000 is the estimated budget to support a family of four for a year.