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Rabbis Demonstrate at UN to Urge Action on Darfur
Yesterday, more than 150 rabbis from the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist Movements joined together for a rally at the United Nations’ Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to demonstrate their commitment to ending the genocide in Darfur, Sudan and to urge the United Nations to take stronger action. Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Yahya Osman, a refugee from Darfur, joined the Rabbis in addressing the on-going tragedy in the region.

Contact: Alexis Rice, 202.387.2800 news@rac.org

NEW YORK, March 14, 2006 – Yesterday, more than 150 rabbis from the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist Movements joined together for a rally at the United Nations’ Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to demonstrate their commitment to ending the genocide in Darfur, Sudan and to urge the United Nations to take stronger action. Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Yahya Osman, a refugee from Darfur, joined the Rabbis in addressing the on-going tragedy in the region.

The rally was a joint project of the New York Board of Rabbis, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Representatives from each denomination spoke at the rally, which was moderated by Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The Rabbis also met with US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and were briefed on the latest information from Darfur by top UN officials.

Excerpts from the Rabbis’ remarks follow:

Rabbi Robert Levine, President of the New York Board of Rabbis, looked to the words Jewish tradition: “Our Torah [Bible] explicitly commands us, ‘Thou shall not stand idle while thy neighbor bleeds.’ This country must take the lead. Stopping genocide is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is a moral issue.”

Rabbi Amy Small, Immediate Past President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly expressed the immediacy of the situation, “The lives of thousands, even millions of the men, women and children of Darfur are at stake…We, Jews who believe in the ultimate goodness of humanity, stand here today to ignite sparks of passion in our country to rally all of our resources for good, to protect the innocent and vulnerable people of Darfur.”

Rabbi Joel Meyers, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Movement), voiced the historical imperative to act, “The horrors we have witnessed and continue to see in Darfur are well known to us…how frustrating it is to once again see good nations of the world saying the right words but doing little to stop the destructions.”

Rabbi Richard Jacobs, a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform Movement) who traveled to Chad this past Fall to bear witness to the refugee camps and humanitarian crisis, remembered listening “to the chilling stories of the survivors…These attacks were not the spontaneous acts of desert marauders acting alone, no this was the coordinated state sponsored genocide of the government of Sudan.”

Rabbi Dale Polakoff, President of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox Movement) reminded, “Mr. President [Bush], it was you who penned the words ‘Not on my watch’ regarding the Rwandan Genocide. Mr. President, we join with you and pledge regarding the Genocide in Darfur: ‘Not on our watch, either.’”

For more information including photos and text from the speeches from the March 13 rally please visit www.rac.org/rabbisrallyfordarfur. For details about the forthcoming April 30th Rally to Stop the Genocide in Darfur in Washington DC, please visit www.rac.org/rallyfordarfur.



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