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The TBE Blog

At the Shabbat service on March 29, some 60 Immigration Justice Group volunteers were recognized and honored for all their efforts in the resettlement of 16 family units during the past eight years. These families were refugees from various countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela and most recently, from Algeria where the IJG welcomed two LGBTQ+ individuals. Volunteers are also now engaged through the new US Welcome Corps program in sponsoring the immediate family members of the two Syrian families that were the first refugee families we helped in 2016.

At the Shabbat service, on behalf of the IJG Leadership Team, special tribute was given to Debbie Gotbetter who has served as the Volunteer Coordinator since day one of the refugee resettlement project and a member of the IJG Leadership Team. Speaking during the service, Michael Gilman said of Debbie:

Debbie has not only interviewed and provided orientation to each volunteer… but has cared for each new immigrant in as loving a manner as you would a member of your own family… Debbie taught each of us by instruction and by example that our goal was not to make decisions or choices for these adults who were adapting to a new way of life, but rather to give them the information and tools they needed to make their own decisions and become independent thinkers in what for them was a challenging new and different country. How many of us volunteers when faced with a difficult situation have asked ourselves, “What would Debbie do?”

On behalf of the IJG, Michael then presented Debbie with the “inaugural Hineni Award”—a baseball cap with the Hebrew word “HINEINI” embroidered on its front and recognizing that, Debbie is the exemplar of those who answer the question “Ayecha – Where are you?” with the response “Hineini – I am here,” always willing to sacrifice for someone or something higher and give of herself. Debbie was also given a memory box containing notes of appreciation from the many volunteers.

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