Each year, the HAIS scholarships for Jewish refugees and immigrants program provides more than 200 scholarships annually to refugee and immigrant students in the United States and Israel. HIAS, or the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, is an international organization which works closely with the American Jewish community, offering rescue and refuge to Jews who are persecuted and oppressed around the world. As the number of Jewish refugees has diminished in recent years, the organization has directed their attention to assisting both refugees and immigrants from all backgrounds. HIAS works with numerous partners, including the Israeli government, the US government, UN agencies and a variety of non-governmental organizations.
Depending upon location, the services offered by HIAS may include art therapy, trauma counseling, humanitarian assistance, and legal advice. HIAS has assisted refugees from almost two dozen countries with resettlement in the United States, citizenship programs and immigrant integration.
The overall mission of the Hebrew International Aid Society draws heavily on Jewish tradition. HIAS provides services to Jewish refugees and immigrants as well as others who are in need irrespective of their nationality, religion, or ethnic background, as instructed by the Torah to help the stranger and ‘fix the world.’ These instructions provide the driving force behind the work HIAS performs.
The work that HIAS has performed has been so instrumental that the New York Times has stated that if it were not for HIAS, there might be no Google today. Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, is just one of the many people HIAS assisted. Mr. Brin was only 6 years old when he arrived in the United States from the former Soviet Union with his family through assistance from HIAS.
HIAS was approached by Edwin and Claire Shapiro in 1974 regarding the establishment of the Richard Alan Shapiro Scholarship fund in memory of the couple’s son, who was killed in an auto accident. Within a short period of time, Norbert Schimmel also created a scholarship fund in memory of his son. Since that time, the HIAS scholarship program has continued to expand, and has provided almost 3,000 awards to immigrant students in Israel and the United States. Through the provision of these awards, students have been able to achieve their goals and study a wide range of subjects. Scholarships are provided to undergraduate as well as graduate students who have immigrated to the U.S. after January 1, 1992.
In order to be eligible for a HIAS scholarship, prospective applicants must have immigrated to the United States with assistance from HIAS. Applicants must furthermore be enrolled in a college, university or technical school in the United States and must have been enrolled for a minimum of one year prior to applying for a scholarship. There are no age limits which apply to the HIAS scholarship program. Previous scholarship recipients are still eligible to apply for another scholarship. Scholarships are judged on the basis of academic merit, financial need and community service.
The value of U.S. scholarships has been increased to $4,000. Other key elements of the HIAS Scholars program include participation in community building projects that serve local immigrant communities. In addition, the program offers leadership skill training as well as educational programs that include Jewish perspectives on current immigration issues, genealogy, career development and advocacy skills building. Participants in the program will also have the chance to meet their scholarship donor, as well as other HIAS scholars.
There will also be an opportunity to interact with other HIAS community members during orientations and scholarship ceremonies which are held in New York City and Los Angeles. Scholars will also be included in HIAS Young Leaders, which is a community of students and young professionals with a devotion to furthering the mission of HIAS by assisting immigrants, and also by advocating for fair immigration laws.
All scholarship applicants should understand that the final determination of their candidacy for a scholarship will be based upon their ability to fully participate in the program; including events and activities. This will also include completion of a community-service project that will serve a local immigrant community and a full written report of the scholarship recipient’s experience.
All HIAS scholarships for Jewish refugees and immigrants must have their application materials submitted by no later than the last day of February.