Immigration: Then and Now

When: Thursday, October 4 2018, 7:00 pm
Where: Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture [view map]

Free. Advanced Registration Required.

Immigration: Then and Now Image

One of the most important issues facing America today is the question of how we approach immigration and the topic of refugees. While our country was largely built by immigrants who came fleeing persecution and oppression, we know from history that many of these people struggled to find their place in society, often facing bias and bigotry as they sought to make a new home in a strange land. Many people who live in the greater Boston area have immigrant roots or are immigrants themselves. Immigration is not just the story of our communities, but of individual lives as well. While immigration policy has gone through many changes since the founding of our nation, it is clear that those who come to this country in search of a better life for themselves and their families still face many of the same challenges that previous waves of immigrants have faced. These challenges include prejudice and mistrust born of ignorance, xenophobia, and even outright racism.

Panelists Include:
Yael Schacher
Ellen Smith
Ed Shapiro
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal

Syrian refugee Christa Ettee Nasri tells her personal story of coming to the US.

This program is a parntership between The Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture, ADL New England, and JCC Greater Boston. 


Ellen Smith is Director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, Associate Professor in Hornstein, and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Trained as both an academic historian and a museum curator, Ellen has published more than three dozen books, articles, and catalogs including The Jews of Boston, co-edited with Jonathan D. Sarna.

Yael Schacher has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University and specializes in immigration history and literature. Her dissertation, “Exceptions to Exclusion: A Prehistory of Asylum in the United States, 1880-1980” (2016) traced the relationship of immigration to refugee policy over the course of the twentieth century, examining claims for refuge by political exiles, war widows and orphans, deserting seamen, and stranded students, among others. Yael spent last year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, where she learned a great deal about the contemporary treatment of asylum seekers. She currently lives in Connecticut, where she works as an archivist at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford and volunteers at the Hartford legal services office of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants.” 

Ed Shapiro has served on the board of Global Eagle Entertainment (provider of inflight entertainment and connectivity) since its formation in January 2013 and a director of United Airlines since April 2016. Since 2016, his family foundation has taken a leading role in community-based resettlement of Syrian Refugees across Greater Boston. The Shapiro Family Foundation proudly gave the seed funding to launch the pilot of the Jewish Family Service Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project, a national model, which brings together HIAS, synagogues, and partners beyond the Jewish Community with a goal of helping recently resettled refugees reach self-sufficiency. In addition to his foundation, Ed serves on several non-profit boards including Social Finance US, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Rashi School, and The Undergraduate Executive Board of the Wharton School.  He is also president of his private investment company, The Shapiro Investment Company, LLC. Ed retired from PAR Capital Management in 2016 in order to devote his attention to their family and his foundation. Ed and Barbara live in a suburb of Boston with their two teenage children. 

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (@IvanEspinozaESQ) is the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. He is an expert in legal protections for people of color and immigrants. He has filed and won dozens of life-changing and law-changing cases across the country on behalf of people of color and immigrants. He advises federal and state policymakers on the legal needs of marginalized communities. His work is regularly featured in publications such as the New York Times. Before joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Iván was the Legal Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP). At CHLP, he supervised a legal team on national projects using HIV as a lens to address racial justice, criminal justice, immigration, and public health issues. Prior to working at CHLP, he handled MALDEF’s immigrant rights docket. He served as counsel in Friendly House v. Whiting, a challenge to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, and was a member of the legal team that successfully defended Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193 (2009), a landmark U.S. Supreme Court voting rights case.

Robert Trestan is the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New England office with responsibility for overseeing the League’s program delivery, community relations, and advocacy initiatives across the region. As a civil rights leader and attorney for more than 25 years, he has prioritized developing community partnerships and initiatives that advocate for justice, equity and fair treatment for everyone. Before taking the helm of the Boston office, he served as ADL’s Northeast Civil Rights Counsel for eight years where he led the League's Cyberhate Response Team and played a key leadership role in consulting and collaborating with Internet industry executives in Silicon Valley. Locally, he led a statewide coalition that was responsible for drafting one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying laws in the country. Robert currently serves on the Massachusetts Hate Crimes Task Force, advising Governor Baker on ways to combat hate crimes in the Commonwealth.

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