It is late into the evening, and I just remembered – tonight is the first night of Chanukah, even in the seemingly God-forsaken town of Farchana on the eastern rim of Chad.
Email excerpts from Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug of Jewish World Watch as they travel to Chad to assess the success of a program to provide refugees from Darfur with solar cookers.
Saturday, Oct. 13, three leaders of Jewish World Watch flew from Los Angeles to Africa for a two-week trip, with their ultimate destination the Sudanese eastern border refugee camps, Iridimi and Touloum in Chad. Jewish World Watch's Solar Cooker Project, led by Board President Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Executive Director Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug and project leader Rachel Andres, has raised $850,000 to date, to provide self-sufficient and easy-to-use cookers to women in the camps so they don't have to put themselves in grave danger of rape or murder when they leave the camps to collect firewood.The Jewish Journal invited the three travelers to record diaries while on their journey, the first entry of which, written by Kamenir-Reznik, an attorney, longtime activist and Jewish leader, we reprint here. It was written four days before departure.
There's a new mitzvah in the Jewish world, and its name is Africa. It is hard not to notice the increased money and energy Jews and Jewish organizations are putting into the continent.
We stood on Sukkot amid the Darfur refugee camps in eastern Chad along the Sudanese border: two prominent Reform rabbis, Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas and Rabbi Rick Jacobs of Westchester Reform Temple in New York; John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, who is deeply knowledgeable about Africa, and Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which organized the trip and does such effective development work worldwide.
On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we ask: Who shall live and who shall die? This year, I will observe Yom Kippur -- the holiest day of the Jewish year -- with refugees from Darfur in camps in Chad.