September 01, 2014 · 6 Elul

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Reform Jewish Leader Arrested at Sudanese Embassy
Today Rabbi Michael Namath, Program Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was arrested with other leaders while protesting in front of the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, DC. He noted after his arrest, "the true woes of the world are those which affect everyone."

Rabbi Michael Namath outside the Embassy of Darfur Namath: I participated in this act of civil disobedience because my Jewish values teach me that I cannot stand idly by and watch as the blood of my neighbor is spilt.

Contact: Emily Kane, 202.387.2800, news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, DC, April 28, 2006 - Today Rabbi Michael Namath, Program Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was arrested while protesting in front of the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, DC. He and other leaders were calling for increased action to stop the genocidal violence and man-made humanitarian disaster occurring in the western region of Darfur. In a statement issued after his arrest, Namath said, "I participated in this act of civil disobedience because my Jewish values teach me that I cannot stand idly by and watch as the blood of my neighbor is spilt." Rabbi Namath’s complete statement follows:

Last week I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of the great Jewish scholar Dr. Arthur Hertzberg, and paused for a moment to read some of his powerful and inspirational writing. I came across a teaching that he provided during an Academic Symposium at Hebrew Union College. Dr. Arthur Hertzberg, taught that in the Talmud, the rabbis concluded that Jews could not be secure and live happy lives unless the rest of the world had risen beyond its wars and hungers. To this train of thought the rabbis added that any woe that affects only the Jews is not really a problem; the true woes of the world are those which affect everyone.

After rereading this piece, I was reminded once again why the Jewish community had become so intensely involved in ending the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. The ongoing violence is an issue that affects everyone. Over the past several months, my professional work has focused on raising awareness on this important issue. I helped develop resources for Jewish congregations, coordinated the Reform Movement’s involvement in the National Rally in Washington, D.C., served on the rally’s steering committee, and organized the Monday lobby visits on Capitol Hill. It has been inspiring to see our Movement rise to the occasion. Yet somehow, it did not feel like enough.

Today, I decided to go directly to the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C. I sat on the steps surrounded by leaders of other national organizations and members of Congress. Three times the police asked us to leave. Three times our group remained silent and steadfast. Finally, we were led away in handcuffs. I can only hope that these arrests will bring more awareness to the atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan

We must continue to raise awareness of this humanitarian crisis that has left as many as 400,000 innocent civilians dead and over 2 million others homeless. Each day, 500 people die from disease, malnutrition, and continued attacks by the Janjaweed. We must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. As we continue to put pressure on the President and Congress, we must also urge members of NATO and the African Union to take action as well.

I participated in this act of civil disobedience because my Jewish values teach me that I cannot stand idly by and watch as the blood of my neighbor is spilt. Why? Because any woe that affects only the Jews is not really a problem; the true woes of the world are those which affect everyone.



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