Syrian refugees walk along a highway in Denmark. REUTERS/Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix Denmark
Syrian refugees walk along a highway in Denmark. REUTERS/Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix Denmark

San Diego Jewish organizations are joining a national effort to ask President Obama to allow 100,000 more Syrian refugees to settle in the United States.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego and the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas are joining HIAS, the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the U.S., to petition the government. As over 11 million Syrians flee violence and persecution, the organizations are urging President Obama and the U.S. government to take the lead in addressing the humanitarian crisis.

JFS provides financial, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual health services to people of all religions in need. The Leichtag Foundation supports Jewish life and community in coastal North San Diego County. HIAS supports all refugees, regardless of faith and ethnicity.

“The medieval commentator, Rashi, asked, ‘Why was Abraham sitting at the door of his tent?’” said Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service, in a statement. “His answer was that Abraham did so in order to see if any strangers were approaching so that he could welcome them as soon as possible.”

The petition includes a letter addressed to President Obama, criticizing the U.S government for only planning to resettle a fraction of the 200,000 people that were resettled for the Indochinese boat refugee crisis in 1980.

Last week, the President agreed to increase the resettlement number of Syrian Refugees to 10,000, according to the New York Times. This is only a tenth of the amount that these organizations believe is possible.

The petition argues that the number of countries willing to accept  Syrian refugees in Europe is inadequate to support the 11 million displaced people, and pressures the U.S. government to make the Syrian refugee crisis a top foreign policy priority.

“As an organization rooted in Jewish values and tradition, we are ever mindful that, like the Syrian refugees and the millions of other refugees around the world, we were strangers, too,” said Hopkins.

Apart from accepting more refugees, the petition also requests that the government supports the refugees with food, shelter, medical care and education, so they are not compelled to flee again.

The New York Times said that the number of refugees accepted from other countries decreased dramatically after 9/11, but has gradually risen since then.

The petition to accept more Syrian refugees is available here.