- Five years of walking to end genocide.
- Five years of showing up, standing up and demanding an end to the wholesale slaughter of human beings.
- Five years to contemplate whether our participation makes a difference.
There is renewed killing in Darfur. They are still raping women by the hundreds of thousands in the Congo. And we are still walking to end genocide – with Jewish World Watch – five years later.
Some people chose to stay home this year, in part because they feel like nothing is changing. We call this compassion fatigue. About it, our ancient rabbis wrote in Pirkei Avot: Lo alecha ham’lacha ligmor; v’lo ata ben chorin l’hitbatel mimenah – it is not your responsibility to finish the task; but neither are you free to shrug off your part. We Jews do our part, being upstanders. Standing up for what is right; showing up to make sure our voices are heard.
So Congregation Or Ami did. For the fourth year in a row, our synagogue brought the largest delegation and raised the most money to expand awareness about genocide around the world. Though we joked that this year is the last year – end genocide this week or we are done walking – but we know this is not true.
- Because Lo ta’amod al dam rei-acha – Torah teaches us that we cannot stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds.
- Because our voices at past marches – combined with those of others around the country – (1) convinced President Obama to appoint a special envoy to the Darfur region, and (2) supported the international Criminal Court as it indicted Sudan’s president for his actions supporting the genocide, and (3) helped build international support for the referendum which led to southern Sudan’s vote to secede from the Sudan, and (4) began the pressure in the US and the state of California to boycott Conflict Minerals from the Congo, which according to people in the know has slowed down some of the enslavement by rebel groups in the Congo.
- And because Kedoshim Tehiyu – the Torah’s call that you shall be holy – is based not on our beliefs but on our actions. When we act ethically, or as the prophet Micah counseled us, pursuing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before God – then, and only then, can we claim the title of being holy.
So push through the compassion fatigue and get out and walk. Our voices are heard and our footsteps felt.
Thank you to Or Ami’s Walk chair Laurie Tragen-Boykoff for motivating so many of us. Mazel tov also to Program Director Marsha Rothpan who was one of the two JWW coordinators of the whole Walk, and to Youth Advisor Michelle Westmiller who as JWW Student Activism Coordinator helped put on this amazing Walk.