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 LA Jews for Refugees



Rabbi Adam Kligfeld has served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am since 2009, after nine years leading a community in upstate New York.  Among his passions and interests are leading musical and intimate prayer experiences, engaging in meaningful Torah study, educating about and advocating for Israel, and building a growing culture of interfaith work at TBA.  When not at work, you can find him playing ping-pong or cheering for his beloved New York Yankees.


Mark Hetfield is President & CEO of HIAS, the world's oldest organization dedicated to refugees (founded in 1881). A global agency guided by Jewish values that assists and resettles refugees of all faiths and ethnicities, HIAS was only national  refugee resettlement agency to file a court challenge against the Trump Administration’s attempted Muslim and refugee ban. Mark began his career as a HIAS caseworker in Rome and later served as HIAS’ Washington, D.C. representative, as its director of international operations, and now as its President & CEO.


Dan Schnur has been one of California’s leading political and media strategists, working on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns. He is a professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communications and was formerly the Director of the American Jewish Committee for the Los Angeles region, where he emphasized the role of the Jewish community in the fight against hatred, bigotry and xenophobia.


Farnoush Abrishami was born in Iran to Jewish parents and lived there until age 13. She and her family were resettled in Los Angeles with the help of HIAS and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFSLA) in 1990. Her husband also migrated to the US as an Iranian Jewish refugee through HIAS and they are blessed with two beautiful children. Currently, she is working for JFSLA as a Pre-Immigration social worker.


Malia Hamza’s family fled Somalia’s civil war and spent time in a refugee camp in Kenya. Malia and her older sister arrived to the US in the early 2000s; Malia became a child bride at the age of 12 and had her first child at age 13. She is now a single mother of six children and works two jobs as a caretaker to provide for them. Malia pursued her GED with help from Tiyya and was selected to be one of their chefs for their catering project, Flavors from Afar.


Mario Fuentes is the Lead Organizer for LA Voice. He came to the United States in 1978 as a refugee from the civil war in El Salvador. Once in the US, Mario set out to organize with his compatriots living and arriving in LA to set up sanctuaries across the US and Canada and educate the US public on the human cost of US involvement in Central America.

Los Angeles City Councilmember David E. Ryu represents the Fourth Council District of Los Angeles. As Senior Deputy to the Los Angeles County Supervisor, he worked for years on public health, housing, children and family services, transportation and senior services. Ryu served as Director of Development and Public Affairs at Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center. In 2015, Ryu became the first Korean American to serve on the LA City Council and only the second Asian American.


Miry Whitehill started Miry's List in July 2016 when she met a family of new arrival Syrian refugees resettling in Los Angeles with kids the same age as her own. As of March 2018, Miry's List has directly assisted over 1,500 individuals experiencing resettlement in California, most of them parents and young children.  Prior to founding Miry's List, Miry was a stay-at-home mom and community activist with a 10-year career in digital advertising.

Rachael Sonntag-Bloom is a Board Member with Save The Syrian Children, helping the organization to grow its strategic partnerships, fundraising, and publicity efforts. Her experience ranges from Director of Membership for Sinai Temple, to management of fundraising projects at the USC Keck School of Medicine, and civic engagement initiatives at California Community Foundation. As an alum of the Jewish Federations of North America’s OTZMA Fellowship, Ms. Sonntag-Bloom worked with Israeli schools and nonprofits to strengthen support services for immigrant and at-risk communities.


Amani Matabaro Tom is the Founder & Executive Director of Actions Pour le Bien être de la Femme et de l’Enfant au Congo (ABFEC), a partner of Jewish World Watch and of Action Kivu, which supports non-profits in the Democratic Republic of Congo that are working to bring peace and healing for the victims of the conflict. ABFEC provides housing and vocational training for young girls raped in the conflict and enables war-affected children from villages in the South Kivu Province to receive an education.


Congressman Ted W. Lieu represents California’s 33rd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives and serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ted and his family immigrated to the US when he was three years old. They went from not speaking English and selling jewelry in flea markets, to owning six gift stores. After working in the family store, Lieu attended Stanford, then Georgetown Law School, and served in the US Air Force before going into politics.


Isabel Burton is the director of community engagement programs at HIAS, where she enables the American Jewish community to act in support of refugees through events, volunteer and educational opportunities, and grassroots advocacy. Prior to joining HIAS, Isabel worked in non-profit management, community organizing, and community development both in congregational settings and in agencies in the US and UK.

Tyson Roberts is the current Refugee Taskforce Chair at Temple Beth Am and Co-Chair, with Chris Bubser from Temple Israel of Hollywood, of the LA Jews for Refugees Assembly Planning Committee. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Benin, he went to UCLA for his Ph.D. and currently teaches Comparative Politics and International Relations at USC. He volunteers in refugee issues with his wife and two daughters in the Temple Beth Am and Camp Gilboa communities.

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