Mitzvah Day: Refugees get dinner invitation to St Albans

By Jay Grenby, November 19, 2009
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Winning Herts and minds: St Albans Masorti teenagers with their Mitzvah Day guests

Winning Herts and minds: St Albans Masorti teenagers with their Mitzvah Day guests

There was food for thought as teenagers from St Albans Masorti Synagogue dined with youngsters of similar ages who arrived in Hertfordshire as unaccompanied migrant children.

Many of the refugees had made perilous journeys from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, in some cases clinging on to the underside of trucks and coaches. Taken into the care of the local county council, they often remain isolated from normal teenage life and struggle to make friends with Britons of their own age.

The get-together was inspired by shul member Laurence Chester, who is the Herts County Council officer responsible for refugees and travellers.

Activities were planned at a series of social meetings between the two groups. The menu was a mix of kosher and halal dishes.

Abi Samuels, 16, said “the experience was eye-opening — and a fantastic opportunity to learn more about their completely different backgrounds”.

Added Nick Grant, a member of the SAMS Mitzvah Day team, whose mother travelled alone to the UK on the Kindertransport: “We are privileged to be involved in this project which reminds us that we were all once refugees to this country. We hope this is the beginning of ongoing contact.”

Earlier in the day, other shul members participated in a “Sainsbury’s Shopping Spree”, persuading customers to purchase goods for the Herts Young Homeless Group’s newly-acquired accommodation.

Over six hours, the SAMS trolleys were filled with more than 1,000 items, from toothbrushes and towels to bedding and cookware.

    Last updated: 4:53pm, November 19 2009