UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, creates videos that they distribute on social media to put a human face on the global refugee crisis. In 2017, there were 65.6 million displaced people in the world. Many of them are refugees seeking safety, shelter and a new home. The two videos below feature the stories of people in Europe taking in refugees. In both cases, the families are Jewish. Many people find these stories particularly compelling because of perceived and real tensions and prejudices between some Muslims and some Jews. Too often forgotten is the common bonds between individuals and groups and the work of thousands of people to build bridges across religious and cultural differences. One common challenge both groups face is that Muslims and Jews, in Europe and the U.S., have become frequent targets of hate and intolerance.
The stories in the videos do not focus on victimization, they highlight stories of welcoming and developing ties across cultural difference. We suggest sharing these videos as a way to explore sociologist Helen Fein’s concept of the “Universe of Obligation.” Facing History and Ourselves’ summarizes Fein’s concept this way:
Fein defines this important concept as the circle of individuals and groups “toward whom obligations are owed, to whom rules apply, and whose injuries call for [amends]”
Attached is a link to a lesson from Facing History and Ourselves that would be an outstanding compliment to these powerful stories.