Sunday, February 28News For London

The lights of Chanukkah, a solution to the refugee crisis.

Used under creative common license. source
Channukah Menorah [copyright: creative commons license. source]

Jewish groups announced joining The National Refugee Welcome Board’s scheme of private sponsorship for Syrian refugees, as this year’s eight days of Chanukkah’s  are coming to an end.

In a video message featuring Rabbis from Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and Masorti Judaism published on Vimeo, they make a pledge to organize for their communities to sponsor Syrian refugees.

They believe that Chanukkah is the time to help others, remembering the times during WWII when their predecessors were refugees themselves fleeing the Nazi Germany.

Pay it forward

Charlotte Fisher, the woman behind the video said, ” My grandfather was a child refugee to this country, from Nazi Germany, in 1939. He got in but his family didn’t – and so he was supported at various points by the kindness of local people. It feels like it’s time to pay that forward.”

Katherine Hallgarten who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee in 1939 says, “Coming to Britain not only gave us refuge, it gave us a chance to grow and contribute. Now it is our turn to do the same.”

Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism, said: “Thousands of our community, and their families, are alive due to the private sponsorship scheme put in place in the lead-up to the Second World War.”


The Jewish groups were joined by the Muslim Council of Britain, the Methodist Church, the Bishop of Barking and individual philanthropists who offered to take on a  part of the cost of resettling refugee.

The refugee sponsorship scheme follows the lines of the Canadian model. It allows non-governmental institutions, community groups, and individuals to apply to the government to bring in a refugee and fully support them for 12 months.

Refugee Welcome

The national board for refugee welcome thinks that it will create a safe legal route for refugees to be protected in addition to the government’s pledge to resettle 20,000 of people over the next 5 years.

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Screenshot showing the number of signatories on the refugee welcome website

The Scheme is not yet finalized by the government. Those who sign in the public register are put on a ‘pathway to sponsorship’ and are provided with training (webinars and workshops) so that they will be ready once the scheme is launched.

A legal challenge

Meanwhile, a legal challenge is taking place regarding four Syrian children currently in Calais seeking to be reunited with their families.

The four children have direct families in the Uk, hence, their right of protection is guaranteed under a clause in the Dublin regulations, which govern EU asylum policy.

Lawyers from citizensUk, an umbrella organization for local communities,  claim there are at least 200 other cases of Syrian children entitled to claim asylum in Britain on the grounds that they have direct family members in the UK.

So should it be successful, more Syrian children will be welcomed in the united kingdom and for them it will be their Channukah miracle.