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Archive for : darfur

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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Young Judeans Reach Out to Israel’s Sudanese Refugees

Young Judea’s Year Course – a nine-month program for recent high school graduates who want to immerse themselves in learning, cultural exchange and service in Israel – is an increasingly popular way for students to spend their “gap year” between graduating high school and starting college. There are numerous program options that allow students to tailor their trip to their interests. And then there are students like Noah Berman and Sean Macdonald who start their own.

A year prior to starting Year Course, Berman and Macdonald participated in a Young Judea summer program Machon, where they were exposed to many facets of life in Israel, including the community of Sudanese and Darfurian refugees living in Israel. Inspired by the plight of this community, many of whom have faced discrimination and poverty throughout their lives, they and a group of other students decided to create an extra volunteer track for Year Course participants.

The result was Garin Tzedek, a program that engaged more than 50 Year Course volunteers in working with the refugee community. According to Berman, there are approximately 20,000-25,000 African refugees currently living in Israel, of which 35-45% are Sudanese or Darfuri. They primarily live in Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, Eilat, Be’er Sheva and Arad (where the Year Course participants primarily worked.) During their year, the volunteers taught English to members of the community, helped to set up a health clinic, fundraised and raised awareness across Israel about the community’s needs.
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Repair Hero: Eli Winkelman

Who says a college student can’t change the world? When Eli Winkelman was an undergrad at Scripps College in California, she started a program called Challah for Hunger. The idea started out small: bake fresh, delicious challah every week and sell it to students and faculty to raise money for hunger and disaster relief.

The program was a hit (even former President Clinton took notice) and began to spread to other colleges. As of 2009, Challah for Hunger had chapters on 30 campuses across the country and had raised more than $130,000, with half of the proceeds going to American Jewish World Service’s Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund, and half going to local, national, or international organizations chosen by campus organizers.
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