SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) - A Valley rabbi opened his heart and his home to complete strangers.

“We want to make a statement that America needs to re-cultivate empathy,” said Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, who welcomed a Syrian refugee family into his home because he says that is what Thanksgiving is all about.

“We feel that Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude and to welcome people who are new to America who have fled violence.”

Fleeing the violence in Syria, the Abusallou family of six found refuge here in Arizona a couple of years ago.

“People started getting killed so, we were scared, my dad was scared so he just took us out of there,” said 10-year-old Sara who helped translate for her parents. She says they have no family here and are so appreciative that the Yanklowitz family opened their doors to them.

“We're happy about it. We're grateful for it,” said Sara.

“We want to make the statement today during Thanksgiving dinner that they are welcomed in our country and in our homes. I think it's important that Jews and Muslims to come together to understand how much we have in common religiously, culturally and in our story of coming to America and that we should build that bridge and not be divided apart,” said Rabbi Yanklowitz.

And after waiting five years to get into America legally, the Abusallou family say this meal and gesture has not only filled their stomachs but also their hearts and they don't take the peace they've found in America for granted.

“Like we're thankful for you guys that you like let us come here, we're thankful,” said Sara.


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