Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch has called the global refugee crisis “the most catastrophic moral failing of our times.” As Jews, he says, we are mandated to help. “When you look into the eyes of an orphan child at a shelter, you realize that this is not a political issue; it’s a humanitarian crisis that demands our attention and action.”

Due to a series of conflicts including the Syrian civil war, more than 65 million people have fled their homes. The number of displaced persons in the world exceeds even post-World War II numbers.

We are launching a refugee relief mission to Greece and Germany to mobilize our community around the global refugee crisis. Our 10-day trip will take place from May 23 to June 1 in partnership with two non-governmental organizations, IsraAID and NOSTOS.  We will offer support to those in need and learn directly from trained experts in the region. We will travel first to Greece, where sites will include a refugee shelter in Athens for unaccompanied minors ages 7-17 and Yazidi settlements in northern Greece.

We will then travel to Berlin and meet with high-level policymakers to learn firsthand about the resettlement of refugees. Finally, our group will visit Holocaust sites in Berlin including the Jewish Museum to connect the Jewish story with the plight of today’s refugees. 

Members of the Stephen Wise community of all ages, from nursery school students to seniors, will support the mission as it approaches through related service projects.

Ultimately, we will foster a long-term connection between the Stephen Wise community and specific refugee relief efforts. “Dozens of times, the Torah calls on us to remember the stranger," says Rabbi Diana Fersko, associate rabbi. We must make every effort to help ‘the widow, the orphan, and the stranger,’ for we too were strangers in the land of Egypt.” 


View draft itinerary. (The itinerary will continue to change up to our arrival in Europe.)


What are the dates of this trip?
May 23 to June 1, 2017

How much does this trip cost?
The trip will cost $5,470 per person, excluding airfare. (Participants are responsible for their own airfare.) 

Who will lead this trip?
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, Rabbi Diana Fersko, associate rabbi, and Michael Patterson, synagogue president will lead this trip in partnership with experts from two nongovernmental organizations, IsraAID and NOSTOS.

Can my children join this trip?
This trip will expose participants to the real-life circumstances of the refugee crisis and is not appropriate for young children.

Will there be time for sight-seeing and leisure travel on this trip?
We will tour the Jewish community of Saliniki and the Jewish historic sites in Berlin.

Are meals included in the trip?
Many meals are included. Some meals are at the discretion of trip participants.

Are we flying together as a group or can I travel on my own and meet the group?
Participants are responsible for their own airfare. 

I am not able to join the trip but would like to support it. How can I help?

Yes! Our goal is for all members of the Stephen Wise community, from Early Childhood Center students to seniors, to take part in our refugee relief mission through related service projects.

Monetary donations are also welcome. No donation is too small. Donate online  or call our development director, Monika Hamburger, at 212-877-4050, ext. 253.

I can't participate in the trip but would like to participate. How can I get involved?

Donate supplies or money. No donation is too small. Donate online or call our development director, Monika Hamburger, at 212-877-4050, ext. 253.


The trip will cost $5,470 per person, excluding airfare. (Participants are responsible for their own airfare.) 

To register, please contact Rabbi Diana Fersko at  or 212-877-4050, ext. 246, as soon as possible. You will be directed to our personalized trip website where you will pay in full and provide passport information.