Return to the Homeland

In Parashat Bo, the Israelites are freed from Egypt.

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Threat of Climate Change

But it is not just war that creates refugees. At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres stated that climate change will become the biggest driver of population displacement within the not-too-distant future, as droughts become more frequent and rising sea levels inundate coastal and island nations.

For today's refugees, no one has foretold the end of their exile, like God did for Abraham. The length of their displacement cannot be estimated and the path of their journey cannot be anticipated. Generations might be born and raised in refugee camps. The concept of home slowly becomes elusive, describing neither the impermanence of the refugee camp nor the country of origin: as U2 sings, "Home... hard to know what it is if you've never had one."

During the Exodus, the Israelites had only their trust in God to assure them that their exile was nearing an end. We must endeavor to work so that today's refugees can place the same degree of trust in the United Nations and the global community to actively support their return to their homelands and reintegration into their communities of origin. We can begin this work by striving to end war and conflict and assisting communities to prepare for and recover from natural disasters. In this way, we help to make "home," a safe place again, a place of trust, so that refugees around the world can foresee the day when their wanderings will come to an end.

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Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is director of education and outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights--North America. She was ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also received her MA and BA in Midrash. She is a contributor to The Jew and the Carrot and serves on the boards of Hazon and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.