The HIAS Pennsylvania Family Celebrates Thanksgiving November 22

It’s that time of year again – on Sunday, November 22, the HIAS Pennsylvania family will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving with a meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, Burmese curries, Eritrean stews and so much more. Back for the 7th year, Refugee Thanksgiving will take place from 2pm to 5pm at Old Pine Community Center (401 South Lombard Street) . It will be an engaging afternoon of food, music, and dance, and a chance for people from all over the world, from Ukraine, to Sudan, to Bhutan, to share in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, many for the first time.

HIAS PA works with refugee families during their first few months in America. Refugee Thanksgiving exposes newly arrived refugees to the most American of holidays while also providing the opportunity for refugees to share their own ethnic traditions with each other, volunteers, and staff. Volunteers from around Philadelphia come bearing turkeys, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

As we hear about the refugee crisis across the world, Refugee Thanksgiving gives volunteers a chance to meet people who have suffered tremendous loss, and who are welcomed into Philadelphia to start new chapters in their lives. Marina Merlin, a long time HIAS PA staff member, emphasizes, “Many volunteers meet refugees for the first time and learn what it really means to be a refugee.” To become a volunteer or bring food, you can contact Sarah Kaeppel at

The Refugee Thanksgiving dinner has been steadily growing since HIAS PA began the tradition seven years ago.  Last year’s dinner featured refugees exhibiting traditional music and dance while sharing their first Thanksgiving meal. Burmese-Nepali children showed how they are keeping traditional music and dance alive in their new home.

This year, attendance is expected to top two hundred people with a variety of acts, including both a Burmese and a Nepali dance group, a dance group from University of the Sciences called Culture Shock, and so much more.

About HIAS Pennsylvania

HIAS Pennsylvania is committed to providing legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. For more information, please go to

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