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Archive for : UN

Quench Your Thirst for Service on World Water Day

Americans’ relationship to water is fairly simple. We turn on a faucet, or head to the grocery store, and find clean, cool, drinkable water at our fingertips. But while water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, less than 1 percent of that is freshwater. And of that available drinking water, much of it is contaminated with pollutants, agricultural runoff and bacteria, especially in developing countries. So for millions of people across the world, access to water is anything but straightforward. In fact, 900 million people do not have access to fresh water on a daily basis.

The world’s ongoing water dilemma was the inspiration behind World Water Day – an annual day hosted by the UN, and meant to focus attention on the importance of freshwater, and advocate for its protection and equal distribution amongst the world’s 7 billion people.

This year’s focus is, interestingly, food. As it turns out, everything we eat from hamburgers to cereal takes water to produce – and lots of it. And severe droughts, which seem to have become increasingly common in recent years, are the most common cause of severe food shortages in developing nations. (Remember: no water, no plants, no food.)
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Human Rights Day, Dec 10

Way back on Dec 10, 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a revolutionary document that recognized “inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights” of all people as the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Pretty cool, huh?

This Saturday marks the 63rd anniversary of the declaration, and Human Rights Day, a celebration of  human rights and a time to honor all activists, supporters and defenders of the global human rights movement. Jewish tradition has its own notion of human rights – the ancient idea of b’tzelem Elohim, which says that all humans are created in the image of God, and should therefore be treated with dignity and respect. In that spirit, here are some ways for you to celebrate Human Rights Day – this weekend, and all year round.

  • Plug into an official event going on for Human Rights Day near you by checking out the UN’s HRD page.
  • “Like” Human Rights Day on Facebook and plug into their 30 days and 30 rights discussion.
  • Plan an event to celebrate Human Rights locally. Check out AJWS’ On 1 Foot website for texts and resources.
  • Make a donation to your favorite human rights organization (like one of these).

And be sure to check out the Human Rights Day video (complete with an auto-tuned audio mash-up!) below:

How will you celebrate Human Rights Day this year?