Hundreds donate to Bushey shul’s emergency collection for Afghan refugees
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Hundreds donate to Bushey shul’s emergency collection for Afghan refugees

Rabbi asked for 'sorters and schleppers' as the synagogue is 'overwhelmed' by donations to help interpreters escaping the Taliban settling in the UK

Volunteers with bags of donated items at Bushey synagogue
Volunteers with bags of donated items at Bushey synagogue

Hundreds of people donated items to an emergency collection for Afghan refugees held by Bushey United Synagogue on Sunday.

Black bags full of clothes and other essential items were piled high – after the shul was approached to gather clothes and other necessities for those who escaped the Taliban.

An email sent by Bushey Gives Back, the synagogue’s social action committee, called on volunteers to sort through bags of donated items, after Afghan interpreter refugees arrived in Hertfordshire this week.

BGB said 17 families arrived in the local area on Sunday, after a direct flight saved them from possible persecution by the Taliban. The rabbi had been contacted by Laurence Brass, the councillor for Bushey North, flagged that they needed items including warm clothing, toiletries, toys and basic school supplies.

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Posted by The Jewish News on Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The synagogue said it was “overwhelmed” with the response, with items going directly to more than 30 families living in hostels around Bushey.

From 10am to 1pm, hundreds of people arrived to donate items, as volunteers struggled to keep up with the generosity of donations.

Elijah, 8, helping with the collection of items at Bushey Synagogue. Lots of hands make light work!

Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, who met refugee families on Friday, took to the shul’s Facebook page to asking for “sorters and schlepers” to assist the sorting process.

He told the BBC exceeded “anything we could have predicted”, and the community “recognise that our grandparents came into this country as refugees and all we’re trying to do is pay it back forward” and show “gratitude” to the UK by “giving to those who need it now”.

Rabbi Feldman told the PA news agency: “My response was, ‘I am absolutely sure we can help although I am not sure we can look after all of their requirement, but we can certainly try.’

“It went crazy. People copied the (Facebook) message. They forwarded it around and by the time Sunday arrived we had around may 3,000 bags (of items) that had been brought to help out.”

Items that have been donated to Bushey United Synagogue in Hertfordshire for newly arrived Afghan families to the area after a Facebook request was met with “a tremendous act of love” from the local community. Issue date: Sunday August 22, 2021.

He added: “It has been a tremendous act of love and completely run by volunteers who all just wanted to help. They are not just Jewish. The message ended up going far and wide and everyone just wanted to make a difference.”

Writer Giovanna Fletcher described the event as “a community pulling together” and that she and a friend were amazed by the act of kindness.

In an Instagram post, she said: “On Thursday night Rabbi Elchonon Feldman put a message out on Facebook saying that 72 families have arrived locally from Afghanistan and that they need everything from clothes to children’s toys and books.

“Word spread. Three days later we were driving towards the synagogue and saw streams of people walking with bags to donate.”

She added: “I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is all being sorted and then distributed to people in need. It’s gone beyond the 72 families. What a welcoming sight.”

Black bags with donated items were piled high

Richard Verber, the United Synagogue’s Communications Director, said: “We are so proud of Bushey United Synagogue and Rabbi Feldman.

“The images from Afghanistan are heartbreaking but the community’s wonderful response is a tangible and practical way to make a difference to many people in need. Kol hakavod for leading the way.”

Mr Brass said he contacted the synagogue after visiting the hotels where the Afghans are temporarily been based and saw they needed many basic supplies including warm clothes as “they found the British cold (weather) very worrying”.

He said: “The Jewish community in Bushey responded in the most extraordinary fashion with tonnes and tonnes of items which the rabbi and I are looking forward to distributing this week to the refugees.

“I am delighted with the response.”

Laurence Brass

Mr Brass recalled speaking to the fathers of the young Afghan children and asked if they would like to take them outside, but was told they did not have pushchairs to carry them to the park so they could play.

Mr Brass said: “A message to the synagogue community was sent out and within three hours 29 buggies arrived. I thought that was just amazing and it is how it has been all day.”

  • If you are doing anything to support Afghan refugees, we want to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing us at: editorial@jewishnews.co.uk
Black bags with donated items were piled high

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