Statement from ALEPH Canada Concerning the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees in Canada

Fully 36 times, Torah calls Jews to help “the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the stranger.” Refugees of war-torn Syria, fleeing the violence of religious and tribal warfare, are all of these. As Jews, we must help: Jews bear history’s imprint of the homeless refugee, collective victims of political barbarism. For Jews not to help is to betray our history and miss a chance to redeem our history: we are to love these people, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deut. 10:19).[1] 

It is doubly incumbent on Jews – who ourselves descend from refugees fleeing war and extermination – to aid our Syrian cousins at this time. Maimonides taught that the highest form of tzedakah (charity) is to help another find a job so that one breaks free of needing charity (Mishneh Torah, Matanot Aniyim 10:7).  Maybe even higher than charity that unshackles another economically is charity that unshackles another spiritually – charity that not only meets gripping economic need, but also loosens the grip of hatred and bigotry.[2]

ALEPH Canada is immensely proud to recognize the efforts and unwavering commitment of the Government of Canada to bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to their new homes in this country with its five-phase national plan, available here:

There is no time to wait – at risk are these 25,000 human beings with basic human needs for food, shelter, stability, and safety, human needs that we can all comprehend, for those are our needs too. Canada has pledged to bring 10,000 refugees here by the end of the year, and the remaining 15,000 will be here by spring 2016.

We are immensely proud, as Canadians, to know that the process is already underway and that Syrian refugees are being screened at the rate of about 100 people a day in Lebanon. We understand that in the next weeks, as many as 900 refugees a day will be arriving in Canada. And they will be received with dignity – they will not be living in tents in camps, but will be housed on military bases, in apartment buildings, hotels, and hospitals. After a month, we are told that their movement will not be restricted, and they may quickly disperse throughout Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the mobility rights of refugees.

We also acknowledge that there are also numerous Canadian organizations, communities, groups and individuals who have made the moral decision to assist in this profoundly “bold act of collective generosity”[3]. And so we are immensely proud, as Canadian Jews, to hear that Jewish synagogues, temples and community organizations across the country are working together to sponsor Syrian refugee families. Almost all of the twenty medium-to-large size Reform temples in Canada are sponsoring one or more Syrian refugee families.[4] The Reconstructionist congregation Dorshei Emet, and Temple Emanuel Beth Sholom in Montreal are each sponsoring at least two families. Temple Sholom in Vancouver, and Beth Israel in Peterborough are two others who are taking action. There are also plans to form alliances with Jewish communities in the US that are currently unable to provide sponsorships due to existing US policy.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote that, “I used to think that the most important line in the Bible was ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Then I realised that it is easy to love your neighbour because he or she is usually quite like yourself. What is hard is to love the stranger, one whose colour, culture or creed is different from yours. That is why the command, ‘Love the stranger because you were once strangers’, resonates so often throughout the Bible. It is summoning us now.[5] Kol ha-kavod Canada.

Sherril Gilbert Executive Director, ALEPH Canada

ALEPH Canada is an organization dedicated to reclaiming the Jewish people’s sacred purpose of partnership with the Divine in the inseparable tasks of healing the world (tikkun olam) and healing our hearts (tikkun halev). ALEPH Canada catalyses, supports, and strengthens the grassroots movement for the renewal of Judaism in Canada. ALEPH Canada nurtures and connects communities, creates new liturgy and educational resources, and works for social and environmental justice.



[3] Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks,


[5] Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks,