Refugee Sponsorship and Resettlement Initiative

“It is not your obligation to complete the task of perfecting the world, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – Rabbi Tarfon, Pirkei Avot.

January 7, 2019

OSSRI would like to thank the Or Shalom community for your support of the Mohammed Family Sponsorship (see below, A Letter of Financial Appeal). As a result of your generosity, we managed to raise $6,000. That is $1,500 more than our original goal of $4,500. The excess funds will be wisely deployed as there are many needs that we know will arise based on our previous family sponsorship experiences. We will keep the community apprised of the progress of the sponsorship application and settlement. We are grateful for your continuing support.

David Berson and Maurice Bloch,
OSSRI Co-Chairs

A Letter of Financial Appeal
November 22, 2018

We are endlessly grateful that through our community’s generosity we were able to sponsor nine adults and seven children. Although OSSRI’s formal financial commitment to the four Middle Eastern families was completed last Spring, many of us continue to stay involved with them. Fighting continues in Syria and many Syrian refugees are stranded in countries where they have no future—including relatives of those we helped bring to Canada. That’s why I’m writing to you—in hopes you will want to help the parents and two sisters of one of the families that arrived in Vancouver in March, 2017 and who are currently stranded in Northern Iraq.   

The father was an elementary school teacher for 40 years. After retiring, he started a business buying and selling cars. The mother stayed at home to raise their eight children. One of the daughters was a travel agent and the youngest daughter is in high school. The family fled the predominantly Kurdish City of Qamishli, Syria in 2017 because of the constant bombing near where they lived and worked. Currently they are refugees in Northern Iraq where they are not permitted to work and circumstances are a constant, hard struggle. 

We’ve raised most of the $40,000 required by the Canadian government, with $10,000 coming directly from other siblings living in Europe. We’re reaching out to you now in hopes you’ll be inspired to help us raise the small remaining amount of $4,500. 

Please make your cheque out to St. Peter’s Church (with whom we’re partnering) and specify Mohammed Family Sponsorship on the memo line. Mail cheques to Sandy Berman, 3950 Willow Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 3R3. You will, of course, receive a tax receipt for the full amount from St. Peter’s Church.  

We invite you to share this request with friends and family as any help will be appreciated. No donation is too small—or too large!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 604.873.8545 or email.

Thank you for your kind consideration to this most worthy cause. 


Sandy Berman
David Berson
Maurice Bloch

Here’s an update on the progress of the families you helped sponsor. Because of your support…. 

… The Bazari family are all doing well. Both kids really enjoy school and have many friends. Their mother continues to tutor them and all are doing well academically. Their father attends English classes in the morning and works in a small food store while their mother is looking for work.

… Ali J. and Ali K. both enjoy the security of living within a housing co-op community. Ali J. is now a kitchen supervisor in the restaurant where he works and is taking pre-requisite courses to enroll in a pharmacy technician program. Ali K. is completing the equivalent of Grade 12 English courses and hopes to start taking university courses in the New Year.

… The Abdul Rahim family are happy in their apartment and all seem to be thriving. The mother continues to take English classes and tutor her sons who are adjusting very well to social life both in and out of school. They have made a good transition, are doing well academically and improved their language skills. The father still commutes quite a distance to his job at a food packaging company in Burnaby, but is doing well, also.

… The Omar family live in a multiethnic neighbourhood in Burnaby. The father has been classified PWD (person with disabilities) and is still taking language classes, while the mother is enjoying working part-time in a pita bakery three days/week as well as taking language classes. The daughter loves school and the friends she’s made. The son loves sports, has learned to ice skate and swim, and plays on a soccer team. Their adult son is working as a drywaller and delights in cycling, hiking, kayaking, swimming, and exploring Vancouver and environs.

Earlier updates

On behalf of Or Shalom Syrian Refugee Initiative, thank you for the generous donations so many members of our community have made to our cause.  Over 195 contributions amounting to over $100,000 have made it possible to bring three Syrian families to Vancouver and have strengthened our community’s resolve to do this vital work of opening our arms and hearts to those in need.

With the help of donors and volunteers, our sponsored families will make Vancouver their home in the not-too-distant future and we will have the means to make their transition and settlement easier. We look forward to updating you on the progress of our families in the coming weeks as more information becomes available to us.

2015 has seen many dark moments – moments that broke our hearts, but the outpouring of generosity and concern that we have seen in our community has demonstrated that there is always light that seeps into the places that are most broken, and for the families waiting to come to Canada, you are part of that light, and part of our commitment to tikkun olam – healing and repairing the world.

Thank you once again for your generosity and for inspiring others with your kindness.

OSSRI Steering Committee

January 2017 – UPDATE from OSSRI

We have good news to report. The arrival of the remaining three families being sponsored by Or Shalom may be more imminent than expected. We have been receiving regular updates over the last few weeks that two of the three families have been interviewed by officials from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Canadian Visa Officers.

Once the interviews are complete, the families will need to undergo medical exams. The third family also had their interview and completed their medicals in early December. They are now waiting to get their travel papers.

Family #1

But first an update on the first family (Ali and Ali) who arrived last year: Both Alis are doing well and keen to start volunteering and working. Both are currently enrolled in English classes Monday – Thursday in the mornings. Ali J is looking for a part-time job and Ali K is seeking volunteer opportunities.

Please contact Jane at if you know of any volunteer or part-time work opportunities – especially if the work doesn’t require prior Canadian experience.

Remaining three families coming soon (we hope)

The resettlement teams assigned to the remaining families are mobilized and preparing for the families’ arrivals:

  • Family #2 (4 members) had a telephone interview by an IOM official. The family then travelled four hours to be interviewed by a Canadian visa officer two Sunday’s ago. They have not as yet been contacted for their medical exam. For the first time, the family has stated that they are feeling encouraged about their future. The resettlement team has signed a lease for an apartment in Coquitlam starting February 1. This will give the team time to set up the apartment and avoid the need for the family to stay in a hotel upon their arrival in Canada.
  • Family #3 (5 members) has been interviewed by the IOM and were interviewed by a Canadian visa officer Tuesday of last week. They are also waiting to complete their medicals. The resettlement team continues to meet monthly and is ready to welcome them.
  • Family #4 (5 members) is in Turkey and were interviewed by a Canadian Visa Officer and completed their medicals in early December.

Despite the flurry of communication in recent weeks, there is still no clear sense yet of exact dates of arrival for any of the families, but it could be as soon as the end of February or a few months beyond that. We will keep you posted as new information comes in and alert you to any needs that might arise as the families’ resettlement to Canada is confirmed and plane tickets are booked.


Thanks to the generosity of OSSRI donors, we have raised enough money to cover a year’s living costs for each of the families we are sponsoring.

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