As most of you know by now, Congregation Kol Ami and Scarsdale Synagogue Tremont Temple-Emanuel have been working together to sponsor and assist a refugee family from Syria. The family has been living in White Plains for the past seven months and has settled in to life in the United States. You may remember that the mom and dad are Amina and Salam and the children are Alan, 9; Digar, 8; and Laila almost 6. They are Kurdish and originally from Aleppo, but they came here from Malaysia where they had been living after escaping terrible violence in their neighborhood. Everyone speaks English, although the children are more fluent than their parents who have been attending ESL classes since they arrived in the US.
Although Salam initially began observing in a dental lab to learn the technology, he has decided not to pursue that profession and instead is currently employed at Macy’s Department Store. He is still finding his way with the help of our employment co-chair and may pursue a culinary course for refugees where he can learn and be paid at the same time. Due to the enormous generosity of congregants at both synagogues, funds were raised to purchase commercial sewing machines so that Amina could start her own alteration business. Due to the clothing factory connections of one of our employment committee co-chairs we were able to obtain these excellent machines easily and slightly wholesale. Amina is now in business – she is an expert seamstress who can alter and make any clothing item.
The children, who are enrolled in Church Street School in White Plains, are doing well and are very happy there. They truly are blossoming. Through the efforts of one of our education co-chairs, the older boy is singing in the chorus, (he was thrilled with his first choral performance) and is learning chess and the violin. All the children are taking a weekly dance class after school and the two older children are enrolled in a weekly drama program – also thanks to our education co-chair. Additional thanks to our finance chair and the community connections committee for providing everyone in the Shatlo family with plenty of warm clothing for the very cold weather.
With the help of another member of the community connections committee, Salam has learned about American banking and managing finances.
In an arrangement with the teen director, Salam spoke to Kol Ami’s teens about his experience growing up in Syria and as a refugee. His talk was well received by those in attendance and he answered many questions asked by the teens.
Many committee members have provided the Shatlo family with typically American experiences – trick or treating on Halloween, visits to the Botanical Gardens, to the Bronx Zoo, to the Museum of Natural History and to family events in their homes. In addition, our health committee member has seen that everyone in the family has made it to a variety of medical and dental appointments.
Much has been accomplished on behalf of our family and by the family members themselves. They are very grateful to all of the members of our group who have remained steadfast in their involvement and support and have enabled the family to have progressed. Many thanks to all of you who have given so much.