Jewish refugee initiative reunites children with their families in Britain


Donors from across the Jewish community have raised over £200,000 in four weeks to bring to Britain more than 100 refugee children who have a legal right to live here.

Nic Schlagman, a trustee for Noam and Masorti Judaism, launched the Jewish response to the Safe Passage UK campaign - started by Citizens UK - with the idea of raising £250,000, but this plan changed with the understanding that authorities would imminently close the Calais camp where the children were staying.

A total of 53 children have been reunited with their families in Britain so far, including two who arrived this morning, with another 47 set to make the trip in the next few weeks.

Mr Schlagman, who has worked and volunteered to help refugees for 10 years, said he was “incredibly proud and humbled to be part of a community which doesn’t just talk good values, but also backs up good values.”

The initiative was born during a Friday night meal at home, and Mr Schlagman said the community’s response had mirrored that of his family.

Other British Jews had seen parallels between the refugees and those who, like Mr Schlagman’s grandmother, arrived here on kindertransport.

“Quite clearly, something very powerful has resonated with the British Jewish community about these refugees. There is a degree of increased empathy because there are shared experiences between people’s family stories and what’s going on now,” he said.

“It also allowed the community to stop and see how well they’ve done, when you consider the position of their families 80 years ago. Now they were able to pay it forward.”

Charlotte Fischer, Citizens UK's senior organiser with the Jewish community, paid tribute to Mr Schlagman, saying: “He’s done amazing work. He’s raised a huge amount of money which means we can take all the children over from Calais.”

Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees’ representative to the UK, said it was “hugely inspiring to see the descendants of refugees who fled Nazi persecution mobilising to see todays’ children protected.”

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