How To Talk About Refugees With Family & Friends

Use this guide to talk to anyone in your life who is not yet part of the Jewish movement in support of refugees. Consider reaching out to someone who has expressed concern about welcoming refugees to the United States or even someone who has made disparaging remarks.

We can be advocates for refugees not only through our political activism but also in our closest relationships. Take a few minutes to listen to another person’s perspective, provide basic facts about the global refugee crisis, address hate speech, and talk about the issue in a Jewish context. We hope that these conversations will prompt some people to take action or simply begin to view refugees differently.

Listen Fully
In addition to generating respect, listening fully will help the person you are speaking with remain more open. You’ll also come to understand why they feel the way they do and can follow up accordingly and find the places where they seem most open to change.

Build Empathy
Challenge yourself to see things from the perspective of the person with whom you’re speaking. If they express fear, help them build empathy with refugees by telling the stories of contemporary refugees and the fears they face as they flee violence and persecution. You can find stories of today’s refugees on HIAS’ blog at

Draw On Your History & Values
Welcoming the stranger is both an American and Jewish value. The United States was founded to provide freedom and safety to the persecuted. Helping refugees sets an example for the nations of the world to follow. Welcoming the stranger is also a core Jewish value. Turn the page for more information about Jewish values and history to use in conversation.

Bring the Facts
A lot of anti-refugee sentiment is based on lack of, or false, information. You can help correct misunderstandings about refugees with the information on the next page.

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story
Source: HIAS