The Congregation Emanu-El Refugee Family Project

Bringing a Syrian Refugee Family to Safety in Victoria

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We are a refugee sponsorship committee for a family of six Syrian refugees including four young children. We are operating with the support of Congregation Emanu-El., This family will be the second one that has received sponsorship help from the synagogue.
We are on a very tight government deadline to fundraise our initial $40K for the family to be officially accepted in the sponsorship initiative October 31.
Our meeting this goal will safeguard the opportunity for the family to be able to immigrate to Canada.
These funds must be deposited with the Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) prior to final approval of the sponsorship application. As of late August, we have moved much closer to achieving that goal and can even start looking ahead to planning the fundraising for the next steps in the process, since we be will be responsible for covering their living costs for the first year they are in Victoria. We have had a generous offer of $5,000 in matching funds for incoming donations.
This family of six, with four children ages seven and under, are UNHCR-registered Syrian refugees currently living in Southeast Asia, where they have been for several years. Conditions for the refugees there are not great as you can imagine. Their UNHCR registration allows us to apply for them to receive landed immigrant status on arrival in Canada.
Our committee includes a number of CEE members, along with representatives from the Lutheran Church of the Cross, who have joined us in this sponsorship and have already raised a generous donation from their congregation. In addition to donations, we are also looking for volunteers who would be willing to join the team. We will be organizing some fundraising events in the coming months with other plans to come. We will eventually also be providing the practical help the family will need with resettlement, on their arrival in Victoria. We will be most grateful for any help you can give to enable this family to arrive safely in Canada.
We want to thank all of those who have already generously donated to help us reach our goal of bringing this family to Victoria. We are just over the halfway point in our fundraising efforts. Please consider helping us to reach our goal.

You can read more about our effort in a neswpaper article at the following link:

Before they left Syria, the family were in significant danger due to the civil war there. Their car was blown up and their apartment building was shelled. We cannot share more details about their situation for security reasons, but fortunately they were able to escape from Syria.
Both parents have professional backgrounds, so we are confident they will manage to establish themselves successfully in Canada when they finally arrive. The mom is a teacher so has been focussing on helping the older children get some education as best she can. The dad is currently doing odd jobs to try to keep the family afloat financially.
The alternative of returning to Syria would be extremely dangerous for them, especially since the father had been personally targeted before he left. Many of us have families who left Europe in similar circumstances going back several generations.
As a member of the sponsorship committee, this feels like an opportunity for me to pass on the help and support my then thirteen-year-old father, my grandparents and my aunt Ruth received in the mid-1930s. This allowed them to escape from Nazi Germany and arrive safely in London to start their new lives. Without that crucial assistance, my brothers, cousins and I would most likely never have been born.
Many refugee families have already successfully been through this process with the help of local faith communities and other groups. We cannot wait to meet this courageous young family, as they exit the airport at Victoria International in about three years time. We welcome all those interested in this project to join us in our efforts.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the CEE Refugee Family Project by clicking the
DONATE button on this page;
—or by phoning the synagogue office at 250-382-0615
—or by snailmail to:

Congregation Emanu-El,
1461 Blanshard St.
Victoria BC V8W 2J3

Please ensure “Refugee Family T82” is in the memo line of any cheque you write.
If there are funds left over at the end of this process, they will be used to help other refugees in keeping with ICA’s rules.
Please email us at with any questions or offers to help.
- Robert Oppenheimer

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the CEE Refugee Family Project through the donation button on this page. Or by phoning the synagogue office at 250-382-0615 or by mail to: Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard St., Victoria BC V8W 2J3. Please ensure “Refugee Family T82” is in the memo line of any cheque you write.
If there are funds left over at the end of this process, they will be used to help other refugees in keeping with ICA’s rules.
Please email us at with any questions or offers to help.
“I find it poignant that when we strip away politics and worldviews that are based on fear, we realize that Syrians, Muslims, and Arabs are not our enemies but in fact our siblings. I imagine from the point of view of the family, just knowing that there is a caring bunch of people on the far west corner of Canada who are working towards bringing them to a place to call home and to a new start pregnant with all sorts of possibilities, must be a relief and a support.
Rabbi Harry