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Manchester Synagogue Hosts Conversation on Refugees

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A synagogue in Manchester is hosting an event this Sunday to discuss how the U.S. treats refugees.

The gathering, titled "Understanding the History of and Morality of U.S. Refugee Policy," will be held at Temple Israel and will feature an expert on refugee policy, a civil rights lawyer, and a Congolese immigrant who now lives in Manchester.  

It has been scheduled for months, but organizers say the topic is even more important in light of the massacre last week at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The shooter, Robert Bowers, blamed Jewish organizations that work with refugees for bringing “invaders” to the U.S. and called Jews the "enemy of white people."

Jeremy Szczepanski, the rabbi at Temple Israel, says welcoming foreigners is a central tenant of Judaism.

"In the Torah, 36 times there’s a commandment to love and not afflict the stranger," he says. "That appears more times than any other commands in the Torah."

Szczepanski says his congregation is talking about the refugee crisis because of their spirituality, and because of their own history as refugees.

“To some it doesn’t matter how long we’ve lived as Jews in a country – we’re always kind of seen as other," he says. "So we know what it means to be other; we know what it means to be treated as other, and unfortunately what happened in Pittsburgh is the latest lesson that has been hammered into us.”   

The event is at 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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