Sinan and Dena: Jewish Refugees

Dena and Sinan came to Britain from Iraq four years ago with the daughter, Yara, so that Sinan could study for a postgraduate degree in electronics at the university of York.

Dena had always believed that her family has Jewish roots but living in Iraq this was not something you talked about. On arrival in the UK, however, she began to explore her Judaism. When the York Liberal Jewish Community opened in June 2014 she was amongst the very first to get involved. Since then, she and her family have attended nearly every service and event held by the community and last year she formally completed her conversion under the auspices of the Liberal Beit Din along with her children (Liza was born in 2015).

Sinan, who has always supported her Jewish journey, is now also in the process of conversion and is due to appear before the Beit Din next month.

Earlier this year as Sinan was approaching the end of his course the family realised that they wouldn’t be able to return to Iraq and practice their Judaism. So, in July, they applied for asylum.

While a decision is supposed to be made within 3 months, it could in reality be up to a year or more. Meanwhile, their funds from home have practically dried up and when on 4th September 2016 the lease expired on their university accommodation they were made homeless.

They had previously applied to the National Asylum Support Service for housing but the deadline passed without anything being offered. There was a real possibility that they might have found themselves on the streets.

Fortunately, through the York Liberal Jewish Community, they have been found temporary accommodation but only until the end of September.

At the moment they will then become dependent once again on the National Asylum Support Service who only offer accommodation in the most deprived areas of Yorkshire and Tyneside. The nearest to York is 45 mins away in Doncaster, not that the family has a car or money to travel.

As a result, without our help, by the end of the month the family will be forced to uproot itself, leave York, their community and Yara’s school to be dumped in accommodation which they may well have to share with another family away from the friends and support network they have.

This is regardless of the merits or otherwise of their asylum claim
, while the idea that a young Jewish family with a child born in Britain might be forced to return to Iraq at the moment seems incomprehensible.

However, if we can raise £5000 we can help them to rent accommodation to keep them in York while their case is being considered. This is particularly important for Yara who has special educational needs and has been making great progress with the generous support of York’s education service. To uproot her in particular would be a massive set back.

£5,000 will cover the cost of private rented accommodation in York for six months and also provide a contribution to their legal fees.  

Please help us to help them.


  • Hava Fleming
    • £131 
    • 7 yrs


Jordan Hennessy

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