Refugee Resettlement

JFS continues to resettle Afghan Refugees and we need your help.

Call For Volunteers

Want to learn more about volunteering on the JFS Resettlement Project? Volunteers are a critical element in the success of helping new arrivals integrate into the community.  Volunteer activities can take place before, during, or after a family’s arrival and may include one-time or ongoing commitments.

We Need Your Help in so many areas:

Ukraine Updates

Ukraine Crisis Update & Briefings

March 28, 2022

The Jewish Federations of North America Crisis Update.

A Conversation on Immigration:

Monday, April 25 | 7 PM | Online

Get Involved To Support Ukraine

Join JFNA every Monday & Thursday at 4:30pm ET for 30-minute briefings on the latest developments around the Ukraine Crisis.
These briefings, open to all, will address humanitarian relief and resettlement efforts.

Update From JFS Executive Director

How To Help Jews in Ukraine

“As JFS have taken on Afghan refugee resettlement over the past five months, we are exploring what steps would need to be in place for our agency to accept Ukrainian refugees. We will keep the community informed of any new developments that we hear.

Support Refugee Resettlement

JFS will be resettling between 25-50 refugees in our community in the coming weeks.
We need your help to welcome our new neighbors.

Ready To Welcome

Together We Will Provide

JFS of Greater Harrisburg has a long history in refugee resettlement dating back to the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, JFS resettled more than 100 Russian families in Central Pennsylvania and in 2017, JFS assisted in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the community. Drawing on our roots and on our mission to help individuals and families meet life’s most difficult challenges, JFS has partnered with HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) to resettle between 25-50 Afghan refugees in our community in the months ahead. The first wave of refugees will be arriving in Harrisburg between December 24, 2021 -February 15, 2022.

Every refugee coming to our community has undergone a rigorous 14-step vetting process to ensure that they have the highest clearances to enter the country. White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained at a press briefing in September that the screening process evacuees undergo in third countries “is conducted by a combination of the intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from across government.” It is anticipated that more than 90,000 evacuees will be resettled in 2022, making this the largest settlement effort ever undertaken in the United States.

As so few refugees were allowed to enter the country under the previous administration, more than 100 resettlement agencies closed during that time, leading to the current scramble for new agencies to step up and fill the void. JFS of Greater Harrisburg will be one of 18 Jewish Family Service agencies taking on this critical, life-saving project and we need YOUR HELP to provide for these families.

This backgrounder contains historical, political, and cultural information to cultivate a general understanding of Afghans arriving in the U.S. 

Donate

Monetary Donations

The best way to support our refugee families is by making a donation to JFS. Your donation will go towards meeting refugees’ basic needs—food, clothing, housing, translation services, transportation, education, and more—as well as supporting our JFS team while they coordinate all of these critical efforts.

Volunteer

Refugee resettlement involves various opportunities and levels of volunteer engagement to supplement the coordination and case management provided by JFS staff. Volunteer activities can take place before, during, or after a family’s arrival and may include one-time or ongoing commitments.

Volunteer Needs

Volunteer needs and opportunities could include, but are not limited to:
*Please be aware that every volunteer will have to undergo a background check.

How YOU can help find housing

We need your help connecting us with landlords and employers who are interested and willing to work with refugees. If you know of any landlords who have residences that can accommodate the families listed above or if you are interested in offering your home on a temporary basis to help out these families, please call JFS at 717-233-1681 or email us at info@jfsofhbg.org

Refugee Resettlement FAQs

Every Afghan refugee referred to JFS has undergone a 14-point rigorous security screening by the Department of Homeland Security as part of the resettlement process. The process includes extensive and multiple background and biometric checks on each individual entering the United States.

The Afghan refugees entering the United States were allies of the US government and US Army over the last 20 years. They represent individuals who:

  • Worked in the US Embassy in Kabul
  • Served as translators for the US Army
  • Worked in Aid & Humanitarian organizations
  • Were at risk if they remained in Afghanistan because of their faith and beliefs
  • Were pro-democracy advocates, including many women and girls whose lives are at risk under Taliban rule

These are brave allies of the United States who deserve our appreciation and support in making new lives in Greater Harrisburg and the United States.

As a pro-active, compassionate agency driven by the Jewish value of “Welcoming the Stranger” JFS of Greater Harrisburg recognized the need to act immediately to resettle Afghan immigrants who were forced to flee for their lives due to their affiliation with the US government and US army while in Afghanistan.

 

So many members of the Jewish community are either immigrants themselves or the children, grandchildren, and descendants of immigrants. We understand what it means to be forced to leave one’s home, sometimes suddenly, and settle in a foreign land; we deeply understand the human tragedy that occurs when nations and citizens turn a blind eye to those who are fleeing persecution, war, and terror.

We are also doing this because JFS has a long history in refugee resettlement dating back to the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, JFS resettled more than 100 Russian families in Central Pennsylvania and in 2017, JFS assisted in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the community. Drawing on our roots and on our mission to help individuals and families meet life’s most difficult challenges, JFS has partnered with HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant AID Society) to resettle between 25-50 Afghan refugees in our community in the months ahead

As of July 30, Afghans flying to the US had to have a negative COVID test before coming to the country, and some have been offered vaccines before flying. In Harrisburg, we are ensuring that COVID tests are administered quickly after their arrival and that the family and staff take necessary precautions to protect everyone’s health and safety. Families will also be given information about masking, social distancing guidelines, and vaccines.

Afghan refugee children are not legally eligible for adoption. If you’re interested in providing a safe and loving foster home to a child in need, learn more about our own adoption and foster care program at JFS.

Services provided to refugees include but are not limited to:

  • Integration –  Refugee clients are empowered to integrate into their new communities. JFS staff and volunteers provide cultural orientation and teach refugee clients how to access and use public services such as transportation and emergency services, enroll their children in schools or apply for employment, identify and select healthcare providers, and obtain things like state identification, driver’s license, or library cards.
  • Employment – After reviewing refugee clients’ education level, English language competence, and job skills, we assist with job readiness and English language classes, employment counseling, and job placement and retention.
  • Health – We support and guide refugee clients through required medical screenings and vaccinations and help them to access health care providers and treatment.
  • Social Services – We provide assistance in helping refugees apply for low-cost housing, enrollment in education or training programs, medical and legal needs, citizenship applications, and accessing additional services as needed.

There are many ways you can help.

Our Services

Each year, JFS transforms the lives of thousands of community members.
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