PHOENIX - As many families gather around the dinner table for Thanksgiving, a Phoenix area rabbi is taking the meaning of Thanksgiving one step further by opening his home to refugees.
"We are here to celebrate Thanksgiving with refugees that have come from all of the world," said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz.
This is the fifth year Rabbi Yanklowitz hosted this Thanksgiving dinner.
"This year, the plan was to have friends from Mexico, Central America, Somalia, Ukraine and some other parts of the world," said Rabbi Yanklowitz.
Nejra Sumic is one of the refugees who resettled in Phoenix in the late 1990s. She came to the U.S. from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that was originally part of Yugoslavia, and later became independent in the 1990s.
"We, unfortunately, were in a very dangerous situation," said Sumic. "My family was persecuted during the Civil War in my country, and we had to leave at the time because it was very dangerous to stay."
Sumic has since integrated into this culture, and is proud to share a meal with other refugees.
"We have my colleague, Martin. He is from the Congo," said Sumic. "My other colleague, he is from Afghanistan. My other colleague is from Mexico."
Every year, Sumic is thankful to spend another Thanksgiving in the United States.
"I've personally experienced what divisiveness can do to a society, to a whole country, and the consequences of that, and given that I've lived through that, I try to exemplify being a person who accepts others for who they are, regardless of where they come from," said Sumic.
Rabbi Yanklowitz says that is the reason behind the refugee Thanksgiving dinner.
"For many people, Thanksgiving is just a time for family. What we realize, with some of our family being distant and wanting the holiday to not just be about us, that who would be the best people to invite, people who don't have a family to turn to and that would be the refugee community," said Rabbi Yanklowitz.