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.

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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

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 and ADL New England. 


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.

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. 

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