This Sunday, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society marks its 130th anniversary with the publication of HIAS@130: 1+30, The Best of myStory. The myStory project gathered the personal stories of those aided by the international organization, especially Jewish immigrants who escaped the former Soviet Union.
Especially from a refusenik perspective, the reach of an empowered outsider, like HIAS, that can pool private and political resources to a voiceless populace within a smothering system, like the Soviet Jews, should not be underestimated. The group provided critical humanitarian support of individual pursuits of happiness and safety worldwide.
The kinship among the advocates, refugees, and predecessors of the Let My People Go movement of the last century is a reminder of the value of the web formed by tribal association. Check out this timeline of HIAS’ efforts, and purchase tickets to this Sunday’s book launch reception at the Center for Jewish History, to become part of that web.