May 24, 2019

Building Community In a Divided World

“For some of the immigrants who take classes in English and citizenship from Welcoming the Stranger, a nonprofit organization in the Philadelphia suburbs that has served new arrivals from more than 100 countries, the past few years have clouded the sense of welcome they felt when they first came to America.

“A lot of them said they were surprised when they first arrived that America is so diverse and has so many immigrants that nobody really cares if you are an immigrant,” says Meg Eubank, the executive director of the 20-year-old group, which operates in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just outside the city. “But in recent years, with all of this polarization happening, people have now reported that they are worried about speaking out in public because they have an accent, or [that] someone is looking at them and treating them differently because of the way they dress and the way they look.”

The heightened political conflict over immigration has created new pressures for the organization and the families it serves. But it has also generated an outpouring of interest from community members eager to support the group’s mission of helping new arrivals transition into American life. “We have had so many more volunteers who have signed up to help,” Eubank says. “I have so many people who want to teach that I don’t have enough placement for them.” At a time of intense national division, “people want to step up and do what they can to help,” adds Lois Heist, a longtime teacher for the group.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The results were surprising. The center-right coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remained in power against the opposition Labor party, which had led in every poll for years."

"Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry..."

"I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews."

"Kids are exposed to plenty of controversial social issues on a daily basis. And if parents don’t want their kids to watch “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” they can turn off the TV."

"Are public-school teachers really underpaid? It’s a claim often made during teacher pay disputes, but the same data and statistical methods that produce the “teacher salary gap” lead to some ridiculous conclusions..."

"Tech companies are getting into the business of making cities. We need to stop Silicon Valley social engineering before things get even worse."

"Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life: Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government."

"“What name . . . shall we give to the darkness of hell...?” The question of how we can name a place such as this is at the center of scholar Scott G. Bruce’s new anthology The Penguin Book of Hell."

"She had all six of her kids — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins!) in her 10-seater van. To get the kids a quick snack, Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Café."

"Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now when eating at home."

"If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground?"

"While American Jewish women face attacks on our freedom and rising anti-Semitism, abortion opponents are appropriating Jewish history in order to push an agenda that hurts women."