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November 8, 2017 | 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Sicha: Understanding the Refugee Experience

In How Fast Can You Run, poet Harriet Levin Millan creates an individual portrait of the challenges faced by refugees, the issues around which HIAS centers their work. We will have Millan and Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, Director of Education (Community Engagement) for HIAS, discuss the refugee experience, its individual consequences, and the work that can be done to rebuild people’s lives with safety and dignity. Stay after the conversation for a book signing and light dessert reception.

How Fast Can You Run tells the story of the real life-experience of Michael Majok Kuch, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, with haunting realism and sensitivity. Millan’s fictional, rather than biographical, depiction allows her to inhabit Majok’s consciousness as she tells the story of his flight from Sudan and the challenges he faced both as a refugee and in beginning his new life in the United States. Based on discussions held between Michael and Millan over the course of years, Millan’s novel adds depth to the way we can understand the refugee experience.

Harriet Levin Millan is a prizewinning poet and writer and the author of five books. How Fast Can You Run, her first novel, was chosen as a 2017 Charter For Compassion Global Read and as the winner of a Living Now Award, for books that enhance the quality of people’s lives. She has won book awards from Barnard New Women Poets, The Poetry Society of America and The Independent Publisher. Her writing has appeared in The Jewish Forward, The Smart Set, The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, the Academy of American Poet’s Poem-A-Day, PEN America, The Harvard Review, Ploughshares and other leading journals. She holds a MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. She directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University.

Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, a graduate of Columbia University, was ordained by HUC-JIR in New York. Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Meyer worked as a Program Associate in the KESHER: College Department at the URJ. While in rabbinical school, Rabbi Meyer interned with Rabbis for Human Rights and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (now J Street), was a chaplaincy intern at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and served as student rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom in East Liverpool, Ohio and as the Rabbinic Organizing Intern at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, NY. After ordination, Rabbi Meyer served as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. In June 2015, Rabbi Meyer joined HIAS as the Director of Education for Community Engagement where she develops educational materials, resources, and programs that educate American Jews about refugee issues, connecting the plight of contemporary refugees to Jewish values and history. She also sits on the steering committee of Reform Jewish Voice of New York. Her writing has been featured in the Forward and she is the author of an essay that appears in the book Seven Days, Many Voices: Insights Into the Biblical Story of Creation.

Co-sponsored by HIAS, HIAS Pennsylvania, and Society Hill Synagogue. All HIAS & HIAS Pennsylvania staff and Society Hill Synagogue members enjoy BZBI member pricing.


Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel


Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel
300 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103 United States

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