By Gretchen Berger
SAJ (The Society for the Advancement of Judaism) synagogue, located at 15 W. 86th Street, hosted a Christmas party for asylum seekers from South America on Sunday, December 25 — also the last of the eight days of Hanukkah — giving new meaning to the portmanteau word “Chrismukkah.”
More than 100 asylum seekers and their families, most from Venezuela and Ecuador, attended the party. Children posed for pictures with Santa, and received hats, gloves, scarves, toys, and steaming hot food. There was an art table. where they colored. “They feel thankful, because in Ecuador they never had this, even gifts and food,” Irma Davidson, a volunteer translator, told PIX11.
In attendance were former Manhattan Borough Presidents Ruth Messinger and Gale Brewer. Messinger is also a former UWS City Council member, as is Brewer, who regained the seat in the 2021 election.
“When none of the churches could be available on Christmas, well, the synagogues naturally stepped up, since we don’t celebrate Christmas,” Messinger said, in The New York Times (which offers great pictures). Messinger was one of 40 volunteers, many from Team TLC NYC, a nonprofit organization that helps migrants as soon as they step off the buses at Port Authority, and also helped organize this event.
“I’ve been working with Team TLC at the Port Authority,” Messinger said. “They organize so many programs for the migrants, who are mostly in shelters. They are getting no services and they keep coming back to the Port Authority for help.”
“These people need working papers. They all want to work,” Brewer added, in the PIX interview.
If you would like to help the migrant families by donating or volunteering, go to the Team TLC website here.