Jewish Family Services Welcomes First Refugee as a New Affiliate Partner in the HIAS Resettlement Network

Mar 8, 2023

Refugee resettlement enhances the agency’s successful refugee employment and family support services.

COLUMBUS, (March 7, 2023) – Jewish Family Services (JFS) announced the recent arrival of the organization’s first refugee for resettlement in partnership with HIAS, the international Jewish humanitarian organization that supports refugees and asylum seekers. As the central Ohio HIAS affiliate, JFS will provide refugee resettlement services to 120 individuals by the end of September, and they expect to provide services to more than 150 individuals by the end of 2023.  

On March 2, Birhane Gebremariam arrived in Central Ohio from a refugee camp in Ethiopia where he spent the previous 14 years after fleeing violence and persecution in his home country of Eritrea in northeast Africa. Birhane’s sister and nephew welcomed him at the airport, reuniting the family after eleven years apart. Birhane will be staying with his sister and nephew while Jewish Family Services helps him begin building his new life. JFS will initially assist Birhane and future refugee arrivals to obtain necessary documentation, secure housing and basic home furnishings, learn English, and complete medical assessments. After the initial resettlement period, refugees will participate in JFS’s successful employment programs. Refugees initially receive cash assistance and housing allowances, but most of the federal aid ends after three months — by which time most refugees are expected to support themselves.

Natsinet Gebremariam (right) embraces her brother Birhane Gebremariam (left) for the first time after an eleven-year separation.

“Welcoming refugees is in Jewish Family Services’ DNA and has been a priority throughout our 115-year history,” said Jewish Family Services’ CEO Karen Mozenter. “Refugee resettlement is aligned not only with the underlying Jewish values that drive our work, but with our mission to help individuals and families achieve economic self-sufficiency and emotional stability.” 

Jewish Family Services joins a national network of organizations that provide resettlement services and other integration support for refugees arriving in the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). 

“Our team is thrilled to add refugee resettlement to our services for New Americans,” shared Director of New American Services Tariq Mohamed. “Refugees are critical to our region’s economic vitality and highly sought after by local employers. Through our resettlement services, we can stabilize newly arriving refugees and then quickly shift to helping them obtain good jobs and contribute to the local economy.”  

“We are excited to welcome Jewish Family Services in Columbus as they return as an affiliate partner in our resettlement network,” said HIAS’ Senior Director of Resettlement and Integration Alicia Wrenn. “This allows them to expand on the successful refugee employment services and holistic supports they already provide while beginning to receive new arrivals and pave the way from the beginning for a smooth entry into the wonderful community of Columbus. Our collaboration with this trusted partner will help HIAS put into practice the Jewish imperative to welcome the stranger and deliver high-quality resettlement services with this skilled and experienced partner.”  

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