On the Fourth of July, JFS friends, board members, and staff gathered to welcome and celebrate over 500 new American citizens at a naturalization ceremony at Seattle Center. It’s become an annual JFS tradition.This year was extra special as two former clients of the JFS Refugee and Immigrant Services program became citizens.
JFS Board Member Arthur Shwab, whose family was resettled by JFS, shared the following words with supporters:
It’s so nice to be here with you all, with Jewish Family Service and so many other local immigrant rights organizations, here to celebrate new Americans, and their families and communities, including two JFS clients being sworn in today, Ahmed and Saba!
I think the last time I was here, at this very ceremony, was 22 years ago, when my parents were sworn in and we became US citizens. Like hundreds of other refugees in the Seattle area, my family was also resettled by JFS.
There is something so powerful about this moment. People have come from different corners of the world, leaving behind and bringing with, different things, some were forced to leave, fleeing oppression, but all are here seeking a new life.
And while there’s incredible diversity represented with each immigrant’s story, there are some profound commonalities in the immigrant experience: the transition to a new society, language, culture, starting a new life and pursuing the American dream.
This ceremony is a pinnacle moment of that commonality – where everyone brings their individual stories and then stands on even ground, receiving the same fundamental rights and freedoms, no matter where they come from or what their journey looked like. The same rights and freedoms as those born here for generations back. At this moment, there is an ideological equality that is foundational to the existence of our country. It is an ideology, an aspiration that we must continue to work toward.
Speaking of doing the work, I want to give a moment of gratitude for the incredible work and commitment of JFS staff and community. They show up for people in critical moments and transitions in their lives, with utmost dignity, respect, and deep sensitivity. Your work, the services you provide, are integral to our immigrant transitions and to the start of our new lives here.
And what I love about this 4th of July tradition for JFS, is that we show up for our clients not only in time of need, but in time of celebration.
Thank you! I feel so very lucky to be here on many dimensions.