“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…” Leviticus 19:33–34
“HIAS” stands for “Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society,” and is an acronym that has been part of our name since the early 20th century. We are proud of our history as a Jewish organization that was created to help Jewish refugees, and, since the 1970s—precisely because we understood what it meant to be a refugee—we have been proud of our work to help refugees of all faiths and backgrounds.
The freedom to be and to practice your faith without persecution is fundamental to our work, as is the freedom to live and thrive without persecution for any reason. We are commanded as a Jewish people to welcome the stranger because we were once strangers in Egypt. Our clients, immigrants and refugees of all faiths and backgrounds, are welcome here, and we are grateful for what they bring to us.
HIAS Pennsylvania supports low-income immigrants of all backgrounds as they build new lives in our community. Through immigration legal services and an array of social services, we work to address their needs, defend their rights, and advocate for their equitable inclusion in American society.
Our values are based on the core Jewish beliefs of “welcoming the stranger” and tzedakah (generosity, charity and fairness). HIAS Pennsylvania views newcomers as valuable resources, not burdens to the community. We believe in the dignity of the individual. We believe in compassion, empathy, tolerance, and respect. All of this is embodied in our commitment to a multicultural society.
Legal & Social Services
In 2021-2022, we served
HIAS Pennsylvania celebrates immigrants as a source of vitality for our society. We are proud that our work:
Strengthens Philadelphia and our region
Our work ensures that immigrants can take their places as legal and full members of our communities. Immigrants:
- Have helped stem Philadelphia’s population loss over the past decade. Residents born outside the U.S. now make up 12.7% of Philadelphia’s population.
- Prepare our young people for a future in the global village, where they will work and live constantly with people from other cultures.
- Bring new power into the workforce. Nationally, immigrants 16 and older work at a higher rate than native-born individuals. Through job search assistance and job mentoring, HIAS Pennsylvania makes sure immigrants contribute to Philadelphia’s work force as quickly as possible.
- Show our children a path of love, civility, and respect for others in a society fractured by xenophobia and hate.
Fills a great need.
HIAS Pennsylvania continues to:
- Grow as much as funding allows to address a growing volume of callers. From 2014 to 2018, the number of new clients served has increased by 55 percent.
- Serve as one of the three federally designated refugee resettlement organizations for Philadelphia. From the moment refugees disembark in Philadelphia, we help them gain a foothold in American society.
- Support special services for those immigrants who are most easily isolated and abused: children and youth, the disabled and elderly, and victims of torture, crime, trafficking and domestic violence.
- Help families reunite and stay together.
- Represent immigrants forced by violence, persecution and economic hardship to enter the U.S. without documentation as they plea for humanitarian relief in the courts.
- Reach out to immigrants in their communities to educate them about their rights and resources.
- Train other professionals, ranging from lawyers to healthcare workers, social workers and school personnel to serve immigrants fully and effectively.
- Advocate for immigrants’ rights and dignity at all levels of government.