Refugee contractor Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society re-brands, drops the “Hebrew” ….

.…and moves its headquarters closer to Washington so as to be closer to the federal money it depends on for survival.  It will also boost its advocacy role with Congress and federal agencies.

Hetfield: The word “Hebrew” is so outdated, like using the word “colored” to refer to African Americans.

They will go by the name HIAS, Inc instead of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society which is probably better anyway since they have so many Muslims to resettle (who probably got skittish when they heard the word “Hebrew”).  One of nine major federal refugee contractors***, HIAS wants the US to resettle 75,000 Syrians (who will be mostly Muslims) over the next five years.

From Washington Jewish Week (hat tip: Michelle).  Emphasis is mine:

The announcement last week that HIAS, the century-old Jewish immigrant and refugee aid organization, will relocate its headquarters from New York City to Silver Spring is just another sign that the Jewish organizational universe is changing.

Once known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the agency has responded to the end of Jewish refugee immigration into the port of New York by refocusing on refugee advocacy Washington, D.C.

In doing so, HIAS is joining an exodus of religion-based immigrant agencies, said Mark Hetfield, HIAS president and CEO.

“All of us started in the Ellis Island days when almost all immigrants came through New York and all migration organizations and refugee organizations were based in New York,” he said. “Then, over the 1990s, that gradually started to change, and now five of the nine refugee organizations [sanctioned by the U.S. State Department] are already based in the Baltimore-Washington area.”

Those organizations include: Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service (LIRS), World Relief (Evangelical), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, Church World Service (mainline Protestant), Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

In the Jewish community, HIAS’ shift is part of a growing trend of organizations shedding old identities when their original missions have been filled. That often includes streamlining names to avoid referring to those outdated missions. Most people already commonly refer to the Anti-Defamation League as the ADL, and years ago, the American Jewish Committee rebranded itself as the AJC, not to be confused with the American Jewish Congress.

Hetfield said that one of the motivations for the upcoming move was a belief that HIAS could have a greater impact by being closer to Congress, the State Department and other federal agencies where immigration and refugee policy is made.

Although HIAS already has a small advocacy contingent in Washington, bringing the leadership, experts and program staff to the area is intended to better assist this advocacy wing shape immigration and refugee policy, he said.

According to Charity Navigator, which gives HIAS its highest rating for transparency and accountability, 65.3 percent of the agency’s annual budget of $25 million comes from government grants – from the State Department, the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  [When we started RRW 7 years ago, no mention was ever made of the amount of federal money these contractors lived off of by any mainstream publication—wow!—ed]


HIAS’ expansion and rebranding included making the group’s acronym its official name. Hetfield said the word “Hebrew” is exclusionary and outdated, much as the word “colored” is to refer to African Americans.

There is much more, read it all.   And, reader Michelle sent other related links that you can see as comments to this post.

We have many posts on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, click here to learn more.

Who is next?  Will the US Conference of Catholic Bishops become the USCCB? Will Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services become LIRS?  Or, how about Church World Service, just CWS, so as to keep their Muslim “clients” mollified? And, to assure those government grants keep coming (so they can continue to lobby with your money and no one will raise the issue of separation of church and state)?

***For those readers arriving here for the first time, these are the nine major federal resettlement contractors which are in control of refugee resettlement in America:

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