Monthly Archives: August 2015

HIAS Chicago Aims to Help Immigrants Realize the American Dream

HIAS Chicago Aims to Help Immigrants Realize the American Dream

Image by Bethany McGarry

The history of the Jewish people in the 20th century is a story of immigration, of people fleeing persecution around the world to find safe havens, including the United States. Many of these people came to Chicago and, in response, the Jewish community allied itself with the burgeoning Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of New York. The organization, which became the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS) shortly after the turn of the century, led to the chartering of HIAS Chicago in 1911. Since then, the organization has served its community as a beacon of hope for immigrants hoping to start a new life in Chicago.

HIAS Chicago has been at the forefront in responding to many critical events in Jewish history, ranging from the immigration that followed the early 20th-century pogroms of the Russian Empire in Eastern Europe to the continued emigration occurring today among Jews in the former Soviet Union. In addition to responding to waves of Jewish immigration – especially before, during, and after the Nazis’ rise to power in Germany – HIAS Chicago has responded to refugee crises, such as those which followed the Iranian revolution and the Vietnam War. In the past 30 years, HIAS Chicago has assisted well over 36,000 people emigrating from the former Soviet states. In 2014 alone, more than 1,000 people benefited from the organization’s services, including 608 new U.S. citizens.

The organization offers a broad range of services that include assistance with the citizenship process to pre-migration processing and support. HIAS Chicago provides scholarships to promising immigrants, helps young people to obtain approval for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and assists Holocaust survivors in obtaining reparations. HIAS Chicago has also been at the forefront of advocacy for immigrants and refugees, partnering with organizations such as the National Immigration Forum and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in order to lobby for the rights of those who wish to make a new life in the United States.

To learn more about the mission of HIAS Chicago, visit hiaschicago.org.

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center Offers History Lesson

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center Offers History Lesson

Image by Floyd Wilde / CC BY Holocaust survivors worldwide were stunned when, in the 1970s, neo-Nazis declared their intention to march through Skokie, Illinois, a Chicago suburb with a thriving Jewish community. While these efforts were thwarted, Holocaust survivors realized the importance of telling their stories in spite of their hope of letting go… Continue Reading

Jewish War Veterans of the USA

Jewish War Veterans of the USA

Commandos by Kenneth Barker / CC BY For centuries, Jewish Americans have served their country as part of its armed forces. Historical records tell of brave individuals such as Asher Levy, a Jewish colonist in New Amsterdam who battled anti-Semitism to earn his place among the colony’s guards in 1654. Today, his and other patriots’… Continue Reading

Fighting for Education Worldwide Since 1880 – World ORT

Fighting for Education Worldwide Since 1880 – World ORT

Industry and Trade by Asian Development Bank / CC BY In the late 1800s, Jews living in Russia, seeking to help their impoverished peers, established Obshestvo Remeslennogo zemledelcheskogo Truda, or the Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor. The following decades saw this organization expand its services around the globe, but it retains its link to… Continue Reading