HIAS Holds Annual Thanksgiving Celebration


HIAS hosted a pre-Thanksgiving feast for refugees resettled into the Philadelphia area.

On Nov. 22, HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Pennsylvania held its seventh annual Thanksgiving celebration at the Old Pine Community Center in Society Hill. At the annual gathering, refugee families chowed down on turkey, sweet potatoes, Burmese curries, Eritrean stews and much more. Including volunteers and immigrants from Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and Eritrea, there were about 300 people in attendance.
Volunteers provided food for the lively, inclusive afternoon that featured dance groups from both Myanmar — also known as Burma — and Nepal, and a chance for people from all over the world to share in the spirit of Thanksgiving, many for the first time.
“I’m glad to be here because the security is very good,” said Ali Hussaini, who immigrated to Philadelphia three weeks ago from Afghanistan on a Special Immigrant Visa.
Hussaini told the Jewish Exponent it’s nice not having to worry about violence. More importantly, he emphasized, he and his wife Nahid like their new neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Hussaini took his new life seriously: Prior to immigrating, he studied the American culture, became proficient at English and learned a little about Thanksgiving.
Ran Sobba, 60, who came to America 10 months ago from Nepal with his wife Lapcheni spoke through an interpreter to the Exponent. He said he enjoyed the event, but adjusting to life in Philly has been tough.
“The main challenge is the language barrier,” Sobba said.
Carrie Fox-Kline, the director of Refugee Programming and Planning at HIAS, said although many of the people can’t speak English, she and her colleagues saw them enjoying the event through nonverbal communication.
“I think we had a great event today,” Fox-Kline said. “It was really wonderful to see so many different families and cultures. Part of today is providing a meal, but part of it also is sharing about traditions and cultures.”
Contact: jcohen@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0747


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