Jewish World Watch drew more than 2,500 people to its fourth annual Walk to End Genocide on April 18, including teams representing synagogues and schools around Southern California. The two-mile Sunday morning walk around Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills raised $175,000 for the people of Darfur, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, an increase of $50,000 over 2009.
Founded in 2004, Jewish World Watch, a coalition of more than 60 synagogues of all denominations, works to combat genocide and other human rights violations around the world. The organization reports that at least 400,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced over the past seven years in Darfur, and more than 5.4 million people have been murdered in the past 10 years, and countless women and girls have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mark Novak, a member of Temple Judea, said he joined the walk to call attention to such atrocities and to show “that the victims of genocide are not forgotten and not alone.”
Kasomo Kasereka, a pastor with the African Christian Community Church of Southern California, which features a large Congolese constituency, said the outpouring of support makes a difference.
“Just knowing that all these people will not let what’s happening in Congo be forgotten lifts our spirits and gives us hope that maybe someday we will get past this,” he said.
Assemblyman Bob Bluefield (D-San Fernando Valley), L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel and Jewish World Watch founder Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, who celebrated his 85th birthday during the event, were among the walkers.
“When people learn about the atrocities happening every minute of every day in Sudan and Congo, this is what happens — they know they have to join the cause and do something,” Jewish World Watch
Executive Director Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug said.
An Orange County Walk to End Genocide takes place this Sunday at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the walk kicks off at 9 a.m.
For more information, to register for the Orange County walk or to make a donation, visit walktoendgenocide.org.