New Jersey has been home to Arab and Turkish immigrants since the late 1800s. Paterson, NJ emerged as a silk production center in the 1920s, attracting further numbers of skilled textile workers from Syria and Lebanon. The film Arab-Americans documents the waves of immigration and settling of Paterson, and its significance to the Arab-American community today.

The Arab-American Institute ranks New Jersey 5th in the country for the size of its Arab-American population, and estimates that almost 240,000 Middle-Eastern and North African people live in the state. Passaic County, where Paterson is located, accounts for 15% of the state’s Arab-American population. Paterson has emerged as a symbolic center for the community, and is known for its Middle Eastern food and cultural offerings.

An article in the New York Times documents the shock expressed by several Arab-Americans in Paterson, which is home to a large Syrian community since the late 1800s, to the current administration’s 6-country ban, which includes war-torn Syria. The Syrian conflict has raged on for almost 5 years and displaced millions. Syrians seeking refuge in the United States favor states like New Jersey with family and community connections.

GERA’s NJ ReBuild program has deep roots in the Paterson community and offers emergency relief to new arrivals, as well as longer term programs to boost resettlement of refugees in different parts of the state. Our team deeply understands that reclaiming dignity and establishing economic independence are urgent needs for vulnerable populations.

We’ve grown NJ ReBuild from the ground up with an inspired team and expert advisors, and invite you to get involved with GERA as we refine and scale our work.