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Immigration & Refugee Assistance Committee

"Love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18) is a fundamental cornerstone of Congregation B'nai Israel.  In 2016, our Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution to declare Congregation B'nai Israel a Sanctuary Synagogue. 



Involvement in Sanctuary can take place on many levels, moving from the broadest and longest-term to more immediate action. We are a “Sanctuary Congregation” ready to provide shelter when we are called upon. In the meantime, our commitments to Sanctuary include fulfilling several levels of response including: 

  • Provide rapid response for emergency issues that arise
  • Advocate for individuals and families
  • Create a local safety net
  • Advocate for local policy
  • Provide pastoral and practical support

Sanctuary is a Jewish Imperative. The immigrants’ fight is our fight. Our history of repeated expulsions, our own immigration status or that of members of our communities, and our experience of contemporary anti-Semitism that shares the same xenophobic roots, are only a few of the many reasons for those who live by Jewish values to heed the call of Torah. 

Does the Jewish Reform Movement support Sanctuary?

Yes. The URJ encourages congregations to protect undocumented immigrants, saying that Jewish teaching compels members to treat “strangers in our midst with justice and compassion.” Today, congregations involved in the Sanctuary movement are mobilizing to help the undocumented community. Congregation B'nai Israel is taking a leadership role by being the first official Sanctuary congregation in the region.

Why are we doing this now?

The need for Sanctuary is urgent. Sanctuary is emergency moral action in our own community. Undocumented immigrants are our neighbors. The current administration is ramping up immigration enforcement and deportations. Today, as many as 11 million people living in the United States without legal status are currently and immediately at risk of discrimination, harassment, and deportation. These people may have committed no crime, lived here for years, paid taxes, and became parents of children who are citizens or have been brought here themselves as children,

Our congregation once again has the opportunity to fulfill the ancient command of being kind to the stranger by adopting a refugee family and helping them settle and integrate into life in Sacramento.

Many of us, if not refugees ourselves, are but a generation or two removed from refugee status. As Jews, we are well aware of the blessings of living in this country, blessings that have borne fruit in large part because of the interfaith work that the Jewish community has been

During the December 2015 Board of Trustees meeting, our Board voted unanimously to adopt a refugee family and help them with the resettlement process by working with the local organization, Opening Doors. Their mission is to "empower refugees, immigrants, human trafficking survivors, and underserved Sacramento area residents to achieve self-sufficiency by accessing opportunities to mainstream economic and social systems.” To get involved, contact Miriam Joffe-Block at:

Camp Nefesh






Mission Statement

Camp Nefesh provides a fun, free summer day camp experience for refugee children and helps them and their families transition to life in the Sacramento region. Planned and led by youth, Camp Nefesh gives campers, counselors, and community members opportunities to learn and grow.

Visit to learn more and become a counselor or adult volunteer!

Thu, April 18 2024 10 Nisan 5784