Immigrant to America helping those newly arrived on these shores
MOST RECENTLY READ BOOK FOR PLEASURE:
“Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss
INTERESTS: Music, baseball & grammar
FAVORITE TRAVELS: Puerto Rico and places where he can interact with people of other cultures
PERSONAL MOTTO: “To be fair and correct according to Jewish values”
Albert Hayoun has led an interesting life, all while holding fast to his Jewish identity. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he, along with his parents and two brothers, were forced to flee in 1956 during the Suez Crisis. He was just seven years old. Although he does not remember everything about life in Cairo, he does have vivid memories of his family synagogue, which he recalls as “beautiful” and historic. That synagogue is now a museum.
After leaving Egypt, Hayoun spent five years in Marseilles, France, where his family continued to freely practice Judaism. “We never had a problem in Egypt or France. Egypt was more socially advanced than many Arab countries and Jews could practice religion without consequence,” he said.
In 1961, Hayoun’s parents decided to move to Brooklyn, where they lived with a relative and received aid from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) until his father found a job as an elevator mechanic. “Fortunately, it did not take my father long to find work, but in the meantime aid from HIAS was certainly helpful,” said Hayoun. He is not sure to what extent his parents required assistance, but he is eternally grateful that HIAS was there to help.
Hayoun has given back to HIAS financially, but now he has taken on a larger role. The leadership approached him about accepting a three-year term on the HIAS board.
Founded in 1881, HIAS is the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, providing rescue and refuge for persecuted and oppressed refugees and immigrants of all backgrounds around the world. Among the many services HIAS offers are trauma counseling, art therapy, legal advice and humanitarian assistance.
“HIAS was started by a group of Jews who wanted to help other Jews immigrate as well as help those who were being taken advantage of when they arrived in new countries. From there it evolved into a major refugee assistance organization using Jewish values in what drives it,” said Hayoun. For him, serving on the HIAS board was an easy decision.
Hayoun, a Cherry Hill resident since 1992 and member of Temple Beth Sholom, spends a great deal of his time running Standard Resources, the Cherry Hill-based metals business he founded in 1994. “We supply aluminum, steel and other metals that help change properties,” he said. “For example, if you have steel and want to make stainless steel, we provide the chrome.” With offices in the U.S., Canada, and China and clients all over the world, Hayoun travels both nationally and internationally. When not working, he spends time with family, and most recently, his newfound responsibilities with HIAS.
“HIAS is really thoughtful in everything they do. It is an honor to have been contacted to sit on the board,” said Hayoun. “I think the board of directors wants members who fulfill diversity of background and diversity of experience.”
For Hayoun, who says his parents always spoke very highly of HIAS, it was “very important to be able to give back to an organization that is selfless in its approach to refugee assistance and finds a dignified way of helping immigrants get to the next place.” .