Some 184 Jewish congregations and communities in the US signed a pledge of support for refugees, promising to take action to help those seeking shelter in the country.
The “Welcome Campaign” is being organized by the refugee support and advocacy group HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which was founded in 1881 to help Jewish immigrants fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe.
The letter — “an affirmative statement in support of welcoming refugees” to the United States — says signatories will support refugees in various ways, including through education, advocacy and fundraising, and on the local level.
“The American Jewish response to the largest refugee crisis recorded in history is really about who we want to be as American Jews,” Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, vice president of community engagement at HIAS, said in a statement.
“All across the country, local Jewish communities are acting on their values and insisting as Americans and as Jews that desperate families be given the chance to rebuild their lives in safety. Together, we are refusing to be silent bystanders at this historic moment.”
The matter of Syrian refugees’ entry into the country has been at the forefront of the current election cycle in the US, with Republican nominee Donald Trump alleging displaced Syrians pose a potential security threat.
Trump has often promised to enact a ban on Muslim immigrants or an “extreme vetting” process on people from dangerous regions of the world. His campaign recently sought to soften his image on the issue, saying he wanted a “fair and humane” solution to immigration.
Meanwhile the US in August took in its 10,000th Syrian war refugee in a year-old resettlement program.
AFP and AP contributed to this report.