Jewish community steps up to aid refugees | ParkRecord.com

Jewish community steps up to aid refugees

Fund offers critical support for refugees living in Utah

Submitted by Jewish Community Fund for Refugees

In mid March members of the Utah Jewish community established the Jewish Community Fund for Refugees (JCFR) to provide emergency funds to legal refugees residing in the Salt Lake City area.

The initial effort in Park City raised over $70,000 in pledges, of which $24,000 has been paid in to date. Grants totaling $6,000 have been made to assist more than 65 individuals. The funds are administered through Jewish Family Services, an organization that provides social services to Jewish and non-Jewish residents in the Salt Lake Valley and in Park City.

The grantees are reviewed and recommended by refugee relief agencies including Catholic Community Services; Utah Health and Human Rights (UHHR); Women of the World; Granite School District; Utah Division of Workforce Services and others.

Among the recipients were a woman who needed emergency dental work and a man with a temporary workplace injury who could not pay his rent or provide food for his family. Money also went for medical bills; twice funds went to help defray funeral expenses.

In another case, a young woman who was a licensed electrical engineer in her home country, Iraq, received a grant to take two CAD courses necessary to complete her U.S. certification so she could enter the workforce here.

"This fund," said Park City resident Carol Levy, one of the Fund's organizers, "will help fulfill the Jewish tradition of “caring for the stranger.” We hope it will also encourage the larger Utah community to support the well being of those fleeing war and repression who seek asylum in Utah."

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Park City resident John Davis, who also helped establish the fund, credits Levy and her husband with ensuring the funds reach the intended recipients.

"We saw a need and Carol and her husband figured out the logistics so there is a good vetting process to ensure the funds are distributed wisely."

According to Davis, the grants are often small amounts, "but they meet a critical need for these families."

Levy said the initial effort began in Park City. "We reached out to our immediate friends and congregants at Temple Har Shalom, but after Labor Day we are planning an event in Salt Lake.

She added the group was particularly touched by a donation from the Murray Arts Council that gave a portion of the proceeds from their production of "Fiddler on the Roof" earlier this summer to the fund.

Levy said the cause resonated with her family because her grandparents and her husband's were also refugees.

"They came here with nothing and made a life for themselves. I believe refugees have made great contributions to our country," she said.

Both Levy and her husband, Ted, have worked with refugees in Utah and in New York. Carol recently tutored a woman and her husband who came to Utah to escape physical and psychological abuse in Congo. She said "it is enormously gratifying to help a deserving group of people become Americans."

– Nan Chalat Noaker contributed to this article.

Donations to the Jewish Community Fund for Refugees can be mailed to:

Jewish Family Services – Attn: JCRF

1111 East Brickyard Road, Suite 218

Salt Lake City, Utah 84106

 Donations can be made online to:

https://JFSUTAH.Org/support-JFS/Donate