Celebrating Freedom: Juneteenth & World Refugee Day

June 18, 2021
By Robin Mencher

This weekend, we have the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the strengths of our East Bay community. Two important dates demand our attention, commitment, and celebration: Juneteenth on June 19 and World Refugee Day on June 20. 

World Refugee Day marks what JFCS East Bay has been doing since a group of Oakland women gathered in 1877 to embody the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger. Every year since then, we’ve welcomed dozens to hundreds of refugees to the East Bay. In the year ahead, we’re poised to more than double our resettlement efforts as federal policy shifts in favor of those seeking refuge. With this expected influx of newcomers, we know that we will need our community’s involvement and support.

Juneteenth, a community celebration of Black joy and freedom, began in 1866 to mark the first anniversary of the freedom of the last enslaved people, two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth, like World Refugee Day, marks a transformation and a new, hopeful start of life. Juneteenth was already a JFCS East Bay holiday and has just become the first new federal holiday in decades. We’re taking the day off today to commemorate emancipation and honor the immense contributions of African Americans in our community, while also recognizing the legacy of slavery and the ongoing impacts of systemic racism. 

This weekend, we will celebrate, we will honor, we will recognize. Then we’ll get back to work partnering with families to build the lives they seek for themselves and for the wider community. 

Here are a couple ways you can join JFCS East Bay in celebrating and investing in all the people who comprise and contribute to the vibrancy of life in the East Bay: 

  • Please click here to make a donation supporting JFCS East Bay’s full range of services.
  • Please click here if you’d like to be notified about upcoming volunteer opportunities to support newly arriving refugees.