Lifesavers Speaker Series: Stories from Syria - Treating those Left Behind

When: Wednesday, June 14 2017, 7:00 pm

Lifesavers Speaker Series: Stories from Syria - Treating those Left Behind Image

Lifesavers Speaker Series
Stories from Syria - Treating those Left Behind
Wednesday, June 14
7:00 PM
Free for students/seniors.

Wonder about the humanitarian side of the Syrian conflict? Join the Vilna in our historic space to hear from three people making a difference in the life of refugees.

Dr. Ala'a El-Shaar has treated those still living in Syria and actively organizes other doctors to travel oversees to treat civilians living in the war zone. She will share personal stories about her work in Syria and how the conflict is effecting people, especially children.

Boston Globe reporter Jenna Russell has done a Spotlight series on refugees settling in the U.S. and their emotional journey here. Learn from her the stories she hears again and again while conducting her investigative reporting. 

Marc Jacobs supports Syrian refugees through the Jewish Family Service Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project. The project is a coalition across eastern Massachusetts that includes synagogues, Islamic centers, academia, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, HIAS, and the medical community to provide safety, hope and opportunity to Syrian war refugees.  He will share his experiences and stories of resettling young children, victims of war, who have experienced great hardship after fleeing for their lives to Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

This emotion, timely conversation will provide first-hand stories about the atrocities and challenges of today's conflict. 

Sponsored by Jason Weiner and Nicole Zatlyn, the Vilna Shul Lifesavers Speaker Series invites you into its historic building to engage deeply with global thinkers, influencers and philanthropists championing social justice and positive change. These unique, intimate conversations provide behind-the-scenes opportunities to engage with leaders that are tackling important, global issues in science, art, religion, business and politics.

Ala’a El-Shaar attained a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science & Psychology from Bridgewater State University in 2013. She recently graduated from Boston University School of Medicine with a Master of Science degree in Anatomy & Neurobiology. Her involvement in Psychosocial mission work with refugeed children over the last several years furthered her interests in areas of behavioral neuroscience and PTSD. Ala’a is currently working as a Research Assistant in the Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience at the VA Boston Healthcare System, conducting research on short & long-term learning in the classroom setting, and serves as the New England Director of SAMS, the Syrian American Medical Society, a non-profit, non-political, educational and humanitarian organization whose members are medical professionals. AMS operates 106 medical facilities throughout Syria that provide general and specialized medical care for Syrians in need. Programs range from primary care to more specialized treatment in order to provide effective and needs-based healthcare in Syria. SAMS also supports hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. SAMS provides refugees with medical and dental care, winterization support, and psychosocial programs. SAMS operates the largest medical facility in Za’atari Camp in Jordan, and SAMS’s members lead frequent medical missions to volunteer their skills for refugees. In 2015, SAMS treated over 2.6 million Syrians, and has surpassed 3 million individuals treated this year. More information is available at

Jenna Russell is a reporter at the Boston Globe and a member of the Globe's investigative Spotlight Team. Her recent work on the Spotlight series "The Desperate and the Dead" documented failures of the state's mental health care system and found that nearly half of shootings by police in Massachusetts - 48 percent - involved a person suffering a mental health crisis.  A longtime projects reporter for the Globe, Jenna produced the three-part series "Brave and Afraid", about one family's struggle to find mental health care for their son, in 2014. The project was recognized as a finalist for the Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism, awarded by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. Previously, her reporting on the long-term effects of childhood bulling won a 2011 Dart Award, for excellence in coverage of trauma, from Columbia Journalism School. Jenna also worked on “68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope,” the Globe's groundbreaking 2012 multimedia series based on a year-long immersion in one of Boston’s most violent neighborhoods, which won first place for journalistic innovation at the National Headliner Awards. She is a co-author of two Globe books: Last Lion, a 2009 biography of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and Long Mile Home, about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Marc Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. Under his leadership, the JFS array of services has multiplied, constantly responding to changing community needs and working to Stand Up for Those Left Behind. The current JFS Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project is a large and diverse coalition creating new lives and possibilities, especially for young children, the innocent victims of that horri c war. Marc and his organization have been thought and best practices leaders in areas ranging from refugees and immigrants, to elders managing the challenges of aging to issues of poverty in both the Jewish and broader community. Marc recently received the 2017 William James College Mental Health Humanitarian Award.

Vilna Shul offers $5 validated parking after 4pm and on weekends. Parking validation is only good for the underground parking at the Charles River Plaza/ Cambridge Street Garage at 165 Cambridge Street. Entrance to the underground garage is between the Charles River Plaza Shopping Center (Whole Foods/CVS) and Au Bon Pain, near the intersection of Blossom St and Cambridge St. Yellow tickets from the surface lot at Whole Foods cannot be validated.

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