The story of the SS St. Louis has been much sensationalized since its occurrence in1939. While the truth is that the Jewish refugees on board were not immediately sent back to Germany, it is still a horrible tale of an uncertain future for all on board. The Cuban government denied the SS St. Louis, a steamship filled with Jewish refugees from Germany asylum in Cuba. The ship’s passengers then attempted to disembark in the United States and the federal government denied entry again. The Joint Distribution Committee and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees then persuaded Belgium to take the passengers even though the passengers had not gone through the process of obtaining a visa for Belgium.  While the Hollywood version of this story is much more dramatic, the truth highlights the challenges the Jewish refugees faced in the years leading up to, and during, World War II. In modern times the world is facing similar refugee issues to those Jews faced during the World War II era. Individuals and organizations, however, are taking action to assist today’s refugees.
The world has rightfully declared that the atrocities committed during the Holocaust will never be tolerated again. But today, due to the Syrian Civil War and other conflicts, the number of refugees has exceeded 60 million people, the first time it has gotten this high in the post-World War II era. While these figures are staggering, individuals and groups, such as the United Nations and local refugee centers are trying to help the refugees. In addition, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience has created a model that facilitators can use for engaging visitors in dialogue on the current refugee crisis. The model has four phases. Phase I helps build community and break down barriers between people by allowing participants to share information about themselves. Phase II encourages participants to recognize how their experiences are alike and different and why. Phase III creates a framework for participants to engage in inquiry and exploration about the topic in an effort to learn with and from one another. Finally, Phase IV helps the group to reflect on the dialogue and what they learned.  Through each phase the participants can discuss their own thoughts on the refugee crisis and how to help.
While the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience is using its resources to create a tool for others to begin a dialogue about the crisis, Linda Sarsour is an activist in her local community putting that dialogue into action. Linda Sarsour is an Arab American who lives in Brooklyn and is the Director of the Arab American Association of New York. The organization assists with challenges Arab Americans may face. For example, it helps Arabs who have relocated to the Brooklyn area register their children for school. It also provides assistance to women who have experienced domestic violence.  In addition, Sarsour is an activist who works with young people to get them involved in Arab American community issues. Sarsour and her organization train these students to identify issues in their schools or communities and provide guidance on how to address them. The students have even created an online newspaper called The Amplifier to create outreach and tell their stories of being children or grandchildren of migrants.
The current refugee crisis is real and relevant and fear should not stop people from beginning a dialogue or reaching out into his or her community. While the fear surrounding national security when it comes to admitting refugees is real, it should not be forgotten that these are people who have made the harrowing decision to leave their homes because they were unsafe. They are people who deserve to feel safe and have the opportunity to live in a world without fear. The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and Linda Sarsour are doing their part to help this crisis, but there is still more to be done.
Students in the Haag. http://www.studeerindenhaag.nl/assets/data/content/2015/09/oneyoungworld.jpg
Jewish Virtual Library. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/images/stlouis.jpg
 Richard Breigman and Allen J. Lichtman. FDR and the Jews (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013), 138.
 “Front Page Dialogue: The Refugee Crisis.” International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. http://www.sitesofconscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Refugees-FINAL.pdf.
 “Arab American Stories- Linda Sarsour Interview.” YouTube. Accessed February 10, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEMR1gLUU!o