EAST ORANGE, NJ, April 16 – As the Passover holiday begins this Friday at sundown, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) of MetroWest is helping dozens of immigrants from 30 countries around the world complete their own exodus from their native lands to the United States.
This year JVS of MetroWest is celebrating 80 years of innovation and impact, providing thousands of underserved people throughout Northern New Jersey with the tools and training necessary to help them secure and maintain employment. About one third of the clients JVS serves are immigrants and refugees who attend classes in English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education, and Citizenship Exam preparation, as well as receive other vital immigration services. These JVS Education & Literacy students also have the opportunity to acquire computer skills and receive assistance with resume-writing and other job search readiness techniques.
Though their origins change quarterly with each new group of students, JVS is currently serving immigrants and refugees from Brazil, Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Puerto Rico and Uruguay. They are between the ages of 25 and 50.
For JVS, the ongoing work with newcomers to the US resonates especially strongly each spring when Jews worldwide celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom. During Passover, which this year takes place from April 19-27, Jews gather for the festive Seder meal and read the Haggadah, the story of how Moses led the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land.
“During the course of the Passover Seder, we are reminded to welcome the stranger, because we were once strangers in a strange land,” says JVS director of Advancement and Outreach, Barbara Raynor. “Though their backgrounds and circumstances may be different from those of the Jewish immigrants of nearly a century ago when JVS began, these newcomers share a common goal: to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Their journey towards a better life – a result of their own personal exodus — starts at JVS.”
“The commandment to welcome the stranger appears in the Passover story 36 times – which is itself a significant number,” Raynor explains. “It is this teaching that serves as a guidepost for JVS as we provide vital assistance to more than 2,000 underserved individuals from all walks of life—and diverse religious perspectives—each year,” she adds.
About Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest New Jersey:
For nearly 80 years, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) of MetroWest New Jersey has provided thousands of underserved individuals throughout Northern New Jersey with the tools and training necessary to help them get and keep a job. Serving more than 2,000 people per year, JVS utilizes a non-sectarian, person-centered approach that meets program participants where they are and helps them overcome their unique challenges by creating pathways to employment, independence, and long-term economic self-sufficiency. For more information, please visit www.jvsnj.org