The editorial, “HIAS In Search Of A Mission” (July 26), touched a raw nerve. I was born in Germany and came to Baltimore as a 6-year-old with my parents and two older siblings. We were refugees from Hitler and were helped by HIAS. We were also helped by a number of others, most especially our own family who was already here — and by total strangers, who provided the U.S. government with assurances that we would become self-sufficient and not public charges. Like so many Jewish refugees from that period, after initial struggles we blossomed into citizens who could give back to this great country.
I have been privileged to have spent the better part of my life volunteering in the Jewish community, holding a number of positions through which I could make a difference in the lives of those we serve. I love the Jewish community and am devoted to it, but not to it alone. I believe that the Jewish pursuit of social justice is one of our greatest contributions to global civilization. Perhaps it’s because I was once an outsider myself that I have continuously searched for ways to help others on the margins of society.
Few organizations have made me prouder than HIAS, and not just because of what it did for my family. That was years ago. Today, it moves me greatly that HIAS is an organization working for the greater good, repairing the world wherever there are refugees. The thought of it going out of business rather than serving non-Jews is not only insulting, it flies in the face of everything I believe in and everything we, as Jews, believe in.