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Migrant justice learning session to kick off initiative

A new mural by JJ Dardano, unveiled outside the Jewish History Museum Sept. 6, underscores the institution’s focus this year on humanitarian issues. Photo Debe Campbell

The Jewish History Museum and Jewish Community Relations Council will formally launch the Jewish Community Migrant Justice Initiative on Thursday, Oct. 24. The project will coordinate Jewish community efforts in response to the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Southern Arizona, says Bryan Davis, JHM executive director.

“This initiative is designed to mobilize our Jewish community toward collective/collaborative action in response to these humanitarian needs now and into the future,” Davis says. The launch event, a “Day of Learning and Deepening Partnerships,” will be a full day of learning, listening, bearing witness, community conversation, and planning.

Elements of the program will include a bus trip to the border to meet with the Consul of Mexico in Nogales, Arizona, Ricardo Santana Velázquez; a visit to the Casa Alitas migrant shelter run by Catholic Community Services in Tucson; and bearing witness at Operation Streamline at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tucson. Agencies and synagogues will share about work they have undertaken in the area of migrant justice, with opportunities to hear individuals directly impacted because of their immigration status, to understand what kind of community response and support is most helpful from their perspective.

Following the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. program, participants will have two options for sharing in a generative discussion that will lead to the next steps toward coordinated and collective Jewish community action, Davis says. Participants may join for dinner nearby at Cafe Desta, 758 S. Stone Ave., at 5:30 p.m., followed by a facilitated conversation, or they may reconvene for a breakfast and discussion the following morning at 8:30 a.m. at the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy, 3718 E. River Road.

“The intention is for every agency and synagogue to have representation on the Day of Learning and Deepening Partnerships so that we can come together as a community in a coordinated effort to respond to the many facets of this complex humanitarian crisis,” Davis says. “Following the Day of Learning and Deepening Partnerships, a cohort will be formed that will include representation from every Jewish agency and synagogue that is willing to participate as we move forward. This is a big commitment of time, and we believe that the urgency of this situation requires a response of this scale.” 

Register for the event by Oct. 18 at The program begins at the museum, 564 S. Stone Ave. For more information, contact Davis at