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Valley Rabbi To Host Syrian Refugees For Thanksgiving

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Scottsdale's Beit Midrash Jewish Learning Center
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
handout | contributor
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Scottsdale's Beit Midrash Jewish Learning Center.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Scottsdale’s Valley Beit Midrash Jewish Learning Center will has invited a group of Syrian refugees whom he’s never met to his home with his own family for the holiday.

Why is he doing it?

“We see this both with the asylum seekers down at the border and with refugees in particular coming from Syria that there is a increased amount of fear that they have living in America," Yanklowitz said. "There’s been a breakdown in empathy for the plight of the vulnerable, and our sense is that Thanksgiving is a time to raise awareness about that.”

Yanklowitz, is extending the invite at a very sensitive time — in the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting that killed 11 in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in America.

He said he knows welcoming the refugees might bring unwanted attention, but still feels it’s the right thing to do.

“Our belief is that our role as Jews in America is to stand up for the vulnerable, and stand up for the stranger and there’s nothing is going to shake us away from that mission.”

A recent FBI report shows hate crimes jumped for a third straight year with religious-based attacks leading the way.

Yanklowitz said both left and right-wing extremists are both responsible for the ominous increase, but more squarely puts the blame on the Trump Administration, which he said has been fanning the flames of hate with its immigration policies and rhetoric.

Phil Latzman is an award-winning digital journalist and broadcast professional with over 25 years of experience covering news and sports on a multitude of platforms.