I am super excited to be running my second half marathon (this time with a bunch of friends from my Cross Country team)! Last year I decided to raise money for HIAS and as I searched this year for other causes, I kept coming back to this one. HIAS's mission is extremely compelling and something I care deeply about. As I shared last year, here is why I am choosing to raise money for HIAS: The US was, in part, founded as a welcoming nation to be a beacon for religious freedom and equality. The US has at times failed to live up to our promises and values due to prejudice and fear, such as in the refugee crisis in WWII and even before that with immigrant quotas. I value, as an American, as a Jew, and as a human, using our privilege as US citizens to help as many people as possible without homes or basic necessities to realize their inalienable rights. Refugees are already subject to a treacherous and frightening process fleeing their country and seeking asylum. The process often takes 18-24 tension-filled months of anticipation. There is no justifiable reason for adding another nearly insurmountable obstacle. It is heart-breaking to see families denied entrance to the US despite proper documentation. Fatima, a close family friend, left all behind and traveled from Afghanistan to Pakistan at a young age, and spent much of her life fleeing the Taliban. Now she is a leader in advocating for women's rights and a graduate student in the US. She is not a refugee, but she does risk her life for her advocacy work each time she returns to Afghanistan. The ban could have easily included her country and then she would not be able to leave America, for fear of never being able to return. When we allow xenophobia in the west, we not only fuel dangerous opposition, but we also fail our moral obligations as citizens of the world. HIAS uses Jewish values to guide them in advocating for and welcoming refugees. If you are able to donate, join me in supporting this incredible organization in continuing their work to make sure America is a diverse, accepting country.