Lifting Up Those in Temporary Shelters


Have you heard about Rosayra Pablo-Cruz? Like the parents of 3,000 other migrant children, Rosayra was detained at the U.S. border and separated from her 15 and five year-old sons, after a treacherous trek fleeing extreme violent threats to seek refuge in the United States in her race from Guatemala. You can read more here about her three months in prison, separated from her sons.

New York City residents worked tirelessly to raise the money and fulfill the legal requirements to free Rosayra from jail, to find her children, and to reunite them. Now, they are in temporary shelter as they await her immigration hearing. With no family, no support, no legal ability to work, and no mandated legal support, she and her sons are exposed to the elements, surviving by the protection of New Yorkers who are providing for their immediate needs.

Some members in our 14th Street Y community live in temporary shelters, their paychecks a few dollars short of regular and rising rent. Some members of this community feel the impermanence of being undocumented immigrants, or reside on a visa that might be revoked or ignored by our government, living with fear that the lives they have been building will vanish in an instant. And, many of us are secure in our housing, never wondering if the roof that covers our secure ceiling will one day disappear.

This week, for Sukkot, some of us with stable roofs are willingly leaving the comfort of our homes to dwell in temporary huts with roofs that expose us to the elements. If you look up this week in New York, you may see many of these small huts, or sukkah, built on roofs and fire escapes. These temporary dwellings built by Jews each fall commemorate both our sleeping in the fields to collect the fall harvest, and the years of our people’s wandering after being freed from the tyranny of slavery. Our tradition demands that no matter how comfortable we are, once a year we experience, and therefore face, the vulnerability of living in temporary shelter. This gives us the perspective and the empathy to help those who have no other choice.

I have been inspired by the many of you who have such empathy. Having heard stories like Rosayra’s have mobilized the community to support immigrant and migrant families seeking to reunite as they await their immigration hearings. Through the #14YMobilize efforts of our community, our members are raising money for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is supporting reunited immigrant, migrant, and refugee families as they await their immigration hearings.

This week, as the 14th Street Y builds a sukkah on the roof in which anyone in our community is welcome to enjoy a meal, members of our Reuniting Immigrant Families Task Force ask that you make a donation to support a reunited migrant parent and child in temporary shelter. You can also get involved in the work of our #14YMobilize efforts here and rally our community to advocate and work on the issues that matter to you.

This Sukkot, as many of us share festive meals in our temporary shelters, consider donating the cost of one festive meal for your family to help those who have no choice but to live in temporary shelter.



Hero Image: A refugee family is reunited at JFK International Airport | Photo: Meredith Goncalves | International Rescue Committee