Masbia Relief In Jewish Link: Masbia Welcomes Immigrants To New York CityPost by: Jose Gavidia • September 15, 2022
While politicians in the United States debate what to do with asylum seekers who cross the southern border, one Jewish organization in New York is committed to providing those who come to the Big Apple basic provisions of food, shoes and clothing.
For the last few weeks, volunteers from Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen with locations in heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, have been on hand at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to welcome busloads of asylum seekers into the city.
“All Jews have a weak spot for immigrants because we have been immigrants for 2,000 years. It’s in our DNA. We understand what wandering means,” said Rabbi Alexander Rapaport, executive director of Masbia. “And, in this case, I felt like we are in New York, and they are coming to New York. It’s happening right here and people are arriving without anything and I felt there was a need for help.”
Rapaport coordinated with officials from the city of New York to get the okay to be on hand and provide assistance to the asylum seekers when they arrive at the bus terminal. Most of that aid is the form of food, clothing and shoes, but one night it even included putting an asylum seeker who arrived in Manhattan late at night into an Uber and sending him to family in Trenton where he had a place to stay.
Rapaport said that although he does not speak Spanish, some of his volunteers and employees do. “I could see the look of horror on my staff’s faces when they hear what some of these people have gone through. So the fact that people are running away and going through so much just to come here is a really sobering motivator for me and for everyone involved to do this.”
“In New York, we have the Statue of Liberty with ‘The New Colossus’ poem from Emma Lazarus, a Portuguese Jew. As kids we all want to see the statue and learn what it stands for; now here is the opportunity to do it. It’s not just a theory, we are here for your huddled masses,” continued Rapaport.
Masbia’s volunteers have even taken to calling their table and welcome area at the bus terminal a mini pop-up Ellis Island and have set up a three-foot Statue of Liberty replica.
“We want these people to feel that they are now in a situation where they are turning the page, where they are getting back their humanity,” said Rapoport.
For more information on Masbia’s efforts to help the asylum seekers or donate, visit https://www.masbiarelief.org/asylumseekers.
To help Asylum Seekers click here.
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