A London synagogue is raising money to house a Syrian refugee family, the latest faith-based group to offer sanctuary to vulnerable migrants under a government plan to resettle 20,000 Syrians. Within a week of launching an online fundraising page, the South London Liberal Synagogue had raised a tenth of the 50,000 pounds ($62,000) needed to refurbish a former caretaker’s flat on its premises.
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“The Jewish community, given our history, is very alert to the need to help refugees, so it’s our small way that we can try and make their situation a bit better,” said Alice Alphandary, chair of the synagogue, located in Streatham, south London.
“We received sanctuary in Britain in previous generations and we want to be able to re-pay that favour,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.
About 70,000 Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe arrived in Britain in the late 1930s to escape the Holocaust, according to the Association of Jewish Refugees.
More than 4,100 Syrian refugees were housed in Britain in the 12 months to September 2016 as part of the government’s pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020, official data shows.
Under a government community sponsorship scheme, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the most senior cleric in the world’s 85 million-strong Anglican communion, has opened his official Lambeth Palace residence to a Syrian refugee family.
A Catholic parish in the northern town of Salford has also signed up to the scheme which allows charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to help resettle refugees.
Nearly 5 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt to escape almost six years of civil war that has left 13.5 million inside Syria in need of aid.