Archive for : Genocide

From Queen Esther to Emma Watson

It’s no coincidence that the Jewish holiday of Purim typically falls in March, AKA Women’s History Month. Okay, maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s a great one. The Purim story, after all, is built around two mighty women: one who stands up for her rights (Queen Vashti) and another who stands up for the rights and safety of her people (Queen Esther).

As we remember and celebrate Jewish tradition’s early female heroines, it is also important to remember that women’s rights issues – everything from gender pay inequality, to women’s healthcare and education access – are still critically important both in America and around the world. That’s why, this Purim, we want to shed light on this ongoing work.

Who better to do that than Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, Emma Watson, herself? In addition to giving a killer speech about gender equality at the UN a couple years back, Watson is a leader of HeforShe, a UN Women campaign focused on bringing all voices around the world together in support of women’s rights.

In the video below, Watson teams up with Broadway star Lin Manuela Miranda (of Hamilton) for an amazing beat box/freestyle flow session about gender equality. It’s worth a watch – we may have watched it twice – and a visit to the UN’s HeforShe campaign page.

And for more on Purim’s heroines, check out this post on My Jewish Learning called Vashti & Esther: A Feminist Perspective.

Agahozo Shalom Youth Village Celebrates Environment Day

Originally published on the blog Rwanda on the Wing by Agahozo Shalom Youth Volunteer, Jared Cole. Check out all the great pictures from the day on his site. And find more ASYV volunteer blogs, here.

This past Saturday, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village celebrated Rwanda’s Environment Day. The student Environment Club and its two staff/volunteer sponsors coordinated the day’s events, which included tree plantings, speeches, and an environmental film.
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Weekly Torah: Parshat Shlach 5771

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Shira Fischer.

For many of us, the situation in Sudan feels hopeless. In Sudan’s western region of Darfur, a genocide has continued for eight years, claiming the lives of more than 450,000 people and displacing millions of others. Meanwhile, decades of civil war between the North and South had finally ended in 2005, only to suffer repeated flare-ups like the latest clashes in Abyei, ((Gettleman, Jeffrey, and Josh Kron. “Warnings of all-out War in Fight over Sudan Town,” New York Times, 22 May 2011.)) which threaten this fragile peace.

So many people have died already in this conflict that sometimes it is hard not to feel like our efforts to pursue peace are futile. Lately, when I receive e-mails urging me to take action about Sudan, I often give in to my feelings of hopelessness and do nothing at all.
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Join Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for a Family Service Learning Experience

Looking for meaningful summer vacation ideas for your family? This August, Repair the World grantee-partner the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is offering the opportunity of a lifetime with their Family Service Learning Trip to the ASYV village in rural Rwanda.

This unique family trip combines service with opportunities for touring and cultural exchange. Participants will explore Rwanda’s beauty and biodiversity with a visit to Akagera Game Park (home to hippos, giraffes and more), hike through local rice paddies and take a guided tour of the nation’s capital city, Kigali. And with service options ranging from working with villagers to make art and create a gallery space, to playing sports with the kids and teens and farming in the ASYV farm – everyone in the family will have an opportunity to volunteer in a way that is meaningful to them and impactful for the village.

Like all of ASYV’s programs, trip participants will come away with a deeper understanding about the devastating Rwandan Genocide, which killed more than 800,000 people, orphaned nearly 1.2 million children and left the country in ruins. And it will give participants the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the ASYV villagers.

ASYV’s Family Service Learning program costs $1200-1500 per person (excluding airfare) and includes all meals and transportation in Rwanda, accommodations, and classes/learning sessions with ASYV Staff and Educators. To find out more, contact Rachel Olstein Kaplan at rachel[@]asyv.org or 212-863-1352.

Find out more about ASYV’s service learning programs and other opportunities to volunteer here, or on their website.

Honoring Yom Hashoah and 9/11 – with Remembrance and Service

Today is Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day – the official day of commemoration for the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. All across Israel and in communities throughout the United States, people are pausing to remember and to honor those lost with special services and gatherings. In Israel, for example, residents observe an official moment of silence at 10am.

My own first Yom Hashoah celebration, which I experienced as a college freshman at the University of Oregon, included a rotation of Hillel students reading aloud the names of victims on the campus quad. They read continuously all day and well into the evening – and I came back to listen several times in between classes, and really any time I could. Hearing the names recited in that way was a powerful, visceral reminder of the magnitude of our loss.
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Repair Interview: Jenni Wolfson on Documenting Human Rights Abuses with WITNESS

Video has the power to change the world by changing the way we see it. In Brooklyn, an international human rights organization called WITNESS is working to leverage video’s power by providing training and support to organizations to utilize video as a critical tool in their human rights advocacy work.

Managing Director, Jenni Wolfson – who spent years as a human rights activist for the United Nations before coming to WITNESS – has seen first hand the important role the documentarian plays in changing the world. Wolfson took some time to tell Repair the World about the quickly changing landscape of video and social media, the courage she sees in activists every day, and how her background as a Scottish Jew influenced her passion for human rights work.
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