Beth Emet - The Free Synagogue

Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

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How can I get involved?

P-DAT is Beth Emet’s initiative to provide direct, high-impact, person-to-person assistance to asylum seekers upon release from detention. Read more about the work of Beth Emet’s Post-Detainment Accompaniment Team.

Volunteer for P-DAT

In order to best serve P-DAT’s asylum seekers, volunteers must commit to being an active participant and have some flexibility with their schedule. We realize that the time commitment and nature of being “on-call” may not be a fit for everyone.

P-DAT responds to calls on the ICDI hotline 10 days each month, the first full week of the month and the third week of the month. In order to be an effective team member, volunteers should :

- Commit to serving for at least a year with the program.
- Attend a 3-hour training session.
- Submit to a background check by ICDI.
- Be available to be “on-call” at least 1-2 days per month from 9am-9pm. (Each month volunteers will be asked about their availability; you do not have to commit to the same day each month.)
- Be proficient at using tools such as google sheets, translation apps, the Greyhound ticket app, GPS, etc.
- Attend monthly (or every other month) team meetings to share best practices.
- Licensed drivers willing to drive into the city preferred, but not required.
- Spanish language skills helpful, but not required.

If you are interested in registering for the next training session, please complete this form and you will be contacted when the next volunteer training session is scheduled. For more details, contact P-DAT co-chairs, Phil Bashook or Lizzie Graham (contact information available in the BE member directory).

Non-Beth Emet members: contact ICDI directly to inquire about volunteering for one of their programs.

Interpreting / Translating for P-DAT 

Do you have proficiency in a foreign language? Another way to support P-DAT is by becoming an “on-call” interpreter to provide interpretation/translation assistance over the phone. While some P-DAT volunteers are bilingual, the team often relies on translation apps to communicate with asylum seekers and their family members. This can be tedious, particularly when talking to family members over the phone to discuss travel logistics and other details. In order to better serve asylum seekers, P-DAT is assembling a roster of Beth Emet members who have language skills and are willing to provide translation assistance over the phone. Because the need for interpreters is unpredictable, we are hoping to gather a “directory” of people who are willing to help out on occasion.

How will this work? P-DAT interpreters will receive a text message asking them to respond if they are available to assist with interpretation. If they are not available at that moment, they simply reply “no” and they will be contacted again the next time a need arises. If the response is “yes,” the P-DAT volunteer will call the interpreter, explain the situation, hand off the phone to the asylum seeker to discuss travel logistics and to convey messages to family members. This is a new initiative and we will assess and make adjustments as we learn what works best. Register with P-DATs Interpreter Directory.

Donate to Beth Emet’s P-DAT fund

The P-DAT fund is used to cover direct costs such as meals, backpacks and travel stipends (asylees are given $20-$60, depending on the length of their trip). There are no administrative costs involved with this all-volunteer run program; all donations go directly into the hands of asylum seekers to aid them in starting their new life in the United States. Donate today! Checks can be mailed to Beth Emet, 1224 Dempster Ave., Evanston, IL. 60201. Please note “P-DAT fund” in the memo of the check.





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Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

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