Congregation at work

Noam and Audrey Elroi travel to McAllen, Texas to work with recent immigrants

This past summer my 16-year old son, Noam, and I had growing concerns about the immigration situation on our southern border. Noam complained that we were not doing enough. Writing letters to our representatives, attending marches, donating money did not seem to be working in his eyes, and he wanted to feel like he was really helping. Meanwhile, he also talked about how much he enjoyed studying Spanish in school and how he wanted to practice it over the summer so that he would continue to do well. We entertained a plan to send him to Mexico to visit friends. Then the news hit about those families legally crossing the border to apply for asylum suddenly being treated like criminals and then being separated. We felt we had to do something. As Jews, we knew we had to get involved. It seemed that going there to offer care, humanity, and love was essential.

I am a nurse. A friend and colleague posted on Facebook accounts of working in a respite center on the border. She said they needed health care workers and volunteers of all kinds. The center was taking people straight out of detention to welcome them to America, give them food, clothing and a bus ticket to the relative or friend they needed to stay with. Noam and I went for a week, giving up working (both of us) and therefore not getting paid, and paying all our own expenses. But the trip was well worth it. Noam got to meet and talk to people who were different from anyone he had met before. We practiced our Spanish and we met other volunteers doing this same work. We were near immigration ground zero and we felt like we helped make the world a better place for a few people for a little while.