I Shudder To Think

August 7, 2013

The view that HIAS should simply fold up its tent because there are no more Jewish refugees to help represents parochialism at its worst (“HIAS In Search Of A Mission,” July 26).
I am the son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who resettled in Baltimore in 1937, helped by HIAS. Nothing pleases me more than to see how HIAS now works to meet our Jewish commitment to aid humanity by applying its more than 130 years of experience with aiding Jewish refugees to the desperate need of others in need of escape from oppression.

I was born and raised in Baltimore, and although we have lived in Dallas for more than 20 years, my wife and I chose Baltimore as the venue to honor my parents when, in 2006, we established the annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration. Baltimore has always been a community that has recognized how it has been made strong
by the hard work of people who, like my parents, took enormous risks to make better lives for themselves and their children. It was Baltimore that welcomed my parents.

Today, HIAS is doing the same work it has always done — protecting those who are persecuted. The only difference is that HIAS’s client base is now more universal. Tikkun olam, repair of the world, is a fundamental principle of our Jewish faith, and I know that my parents would be deeply proud of the responsibility that HIAS has taken on.

I shudder to think what their reaction would be to the parochial suggestion of closing down the agency with the most experience, the one that is held in the highest regard by the various national and international bodies in the field, the one that represents to the world the ideals and actions of the Jewish community at its best.

Frank Risch
Dallas

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