September 13, 2007
Locals push to expand social action and justice efforts
(Page 2 - Previous Page)However, pendulums do swing, and now the broad interest in social justice can quickly be gauged by the prevalence and variety of advocacy efforts. The major issues currently are: reducing the United States' dependence on foreign oil; lowering carbon emissions and stemming the tide of climate change; pushing for economic reform and better treatment of blue-collar workers; and stopping genocide in Darfur.
And when it comes to ethnic cleansing in the war-torn western Sudan, no Jewish organization has done more to heighten American awareness than Jewish World Watch. Founded by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, the legendary Conservative leader of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, Jewish World Watch has developed various programs, like its solar cooker project, to increase safety in the remote villages often attacked by janjaweed militiamen.
That's the social action part of the organization's work. But by imploring Jews and non-Jews alike to "not stand idly by" as genocide occurs, Jewish World Watch is promoting social justice by advocating Americans take a continuing stand against evil.
The outcome may not be as immediately satisfying as sending supplies or humanitarian workers to Darfur. Social justice can be a long-fought slog. The desired outcome though, like it is for so many others who have joined the social justice movement, is to treat the root of the problem, in this case, to increase international pressure on the Sudanese government so that foreign help can be more than a Band-Aid.
"Jews want to feel that we are not duplicitous; that what we said about the church in the 1940s -- why didn't they speak out? -- we don't want that to happen to our children and grandchildren," Schulweis said. "You have to be proud, not only of what was said thousands of years ago, but be proud of what Jews are saying today. We can't act as if we are has-beens, used-to-bes. But we have to convince ourselves by our actions, by what we are doing now and today."
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