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Press Release 2-16-2022

 

February 16, 2022

Contacts:

Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Congregation Shaare Emeth

(314) 569-0010; agoldstein@sestl.org

 

Ali Durhan, TASOM

(773) 629-9460; alikdurhan@gmail.com

 

Kevin Cameron, Pastor – Parkway United Church of Christ

(314) 330-0629; kevin@parkwayucc.org

 

Jewish, Muslim, and Christian friends unite to welcome Afghan family to St. Louis

 

St. Louis, MO – The Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths share many similarities, including a strong commitment to welcome refugees and help those in distress. With a strong foundation of the Abrahamic religions’ common values, Congregation Shaare Emeth, Parkway United Church of Christ, and Turkish American Society of Missouri (TASOM) have joined together to form the Intertwine Interfaith Welcome Circle (IIWC). The purpose and privilege of IIWC is to sponsor an Afghan family in their move to St. Louis.

 

Nearly 70,000 Afghanis have arrived in the United States, seeking safety in the face of the Taliban regime’s 2021 return to power. These new Americans have been temporarily housed on U.S. military bases. Nine U.S. resettlement agencies, including the International Institute in St. Louis, have been working diligently to settle the Afghanis throughout the United States, however, historic low arrivals during the previous administration led to significantly limited resources for resettlement.

Consequently, the US Department of State issued a call to action to expand the capacity to welcome these families and help them begin their new lives as Americans through the establishment of sponsor circles. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/23/politics/afghan-refugees-private-resettlement-veterans/index.html

 

Hearing the call, IIWC was launched as an emergency initiative through the Welcome Circle program with HIAS (formerly known as Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) which has settled more than 4.5 million refugees since being founded in 1881. Through the three faith communities, family, and friends, IIWC raised more than $28,000 to cover essential needs such as housing, clothing, food, and utilities for the family’s first six months in St. Louis. IIWC has also relied on the broader generosity of the faith groups and the community for donations of furniture and other household goods to create a welcoming, comfortable home for the family.

 

The IIWC founders and core teams are made up of representatives from each faith organization. The core team will have direct contact with the Afghani family, enrolling the kids in school, helping the parents learn the fundamentals of food shopping, transportation, language skills, banking and more, while also introducing the family to the many cultural and entertainment options in St Louis. Resource identification, career assistance, and assimilation to the St. Louis community will be ongoing efforts to help the family become self-sufficient.

 

IIWC is excited to announce that a family of six, including four children aged three to 11, arrived in St. Louis on Valentine’s Day! At least two other sponsor circles are actively engaged in bringing Afghans to the St. Louis area.

 

IIWC was born out of the Intertwine Interfaith Initiative which was created in the spring of 2018 to bring people together to celebrate the commonalities and differences of various faiths. The goal of the initiative is to build friendship, understanding, and appreciation as we all strive to serve God and share our gifts with humanity. Since its founding, Intertwine Interfaith Initiative has shared holidays from each faith, facilitated a discussion series, hosted live and virtual cooking classes, and organized community service opportunities.

 

Congregation Shaare Emeth’s mission is to be a compassionate and inclusive community that makes Judaism relevant, meaningful, and joyful. Members and guests of all ages experience a strong sense of community, are intellectually and spiritually engaged, and are committed to the values of tzedakah (justice) and acts of gemilut chasadim (acts of compassion and kindness). Congregation Shaare Emeth believes that all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.  In that vein, the Congregation is dedicated to work together to fulfill the Jewish mandate of tikkun olam, repairing our world, by alleviating poverty and hunger, fighting injustice, caring for human beings in times of need, protecting the environment, and bringing peace.

 

Turkish American Society of Missouri (TASOM) is a non-profit organization founded and supported by the individuals who are inspired by the ideals and the principles of the Hizmet Movement in 2007 in St. Louis. Its goal is to assume the role of liaison between the Turkish community and other communities living in St. Louis area and Missouri at large. The association works to strengthen the intercultural community and ensure a positive experience for those who are willing to participate in cross-cultural activities. At the heart of all our programs, TASOM strives to create a positive social environment in which to build and strengthen the quality of life in Missouri. The ultimate goal of TASOM’s activities is to build stronger and safer communities through communication and interaction. TASOM also seeks to enrich the experience of the entire community by providing opportunities to engage and educate the community related to diversity. Fostering diversity, inclusion, and respect for all the community is one of the goals of TASOM.

 

Parkway United Church of Christ celebrates an extravagant welcome for all, “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey.” The congregation is guided by limitless love, courageous action, and spirited inquiry, while advocating for justice for all and extending hospitality as a sign of God’s inclusive love. The denomination is proud to work with — not against — people of other faiths. The United Church of Christ is a mainline denomination with more than 1.1 million members in 5,100 congregations.

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Post Date: February 18, 2022

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