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Program Bank: Upholding Human Rights, Fighting Persecution

Educate Yourself  
The first step in responding to a humanitarian crisis is to become educated. The following organizations can help you learn more about persecution and other human rights issues in countries around the world: 

  • American Jewish World Service - AJWS is an independent not-for-profit organization founded in 1985 to help alleviate poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the world regardless of race, religion or nationality. It breathes life into Judaism's imperative to pursue justice and helps American Jews act upon a deeply felt obligation to improve the chances for survival, economic independence and human dignity for all people. AJWS' grant making fulfills both Jewish and humanitarian responsibilities for people around the globe. 

  • Amnesty International - Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. In pursuit of this vision, AI’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of human rights. 

  • Human Rights Watch - Human Rights Watch is the largest human rights organization based in the United States. Human Rights Watch researchers conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses in all regions of the world. Human Rights Watch then publishes those findings in dozens of books and reports every year, generating extensive coverage in local and international media.  

Pledge to Donate Money to Human Rights Organizations 

During your celebration of Purim, pledge a certain amount of money for every time Haman’s name is mentioned during the megillah reading. AJWS, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International are all worthy organizations fighting to end human rights violations and assure that all people can live lives of dignity. Check out their websites for more information about specific projects you can contribute to or other grassroots programs these organizations support. 

Program Ideas for Groups: Religious School Classes, Youth Groups, and Congregations 

Call for a Ta’anit Esther- Fast for Humanitarian Crises  
The day before Purim is traditionally Ta’anit Esther, the Fast of Esther, which commemorates the three-day fast that Esther asks the Jews to hold before she goes to plead before the king. Fasting for a day is not only a very personal way to tap into your compassion for the suffering of others, but also a very powerful way to act in solidarity with the people being persecuted. Hold a community-wide fast the day before Purim in solidarity with those who are suffering and donate the funds that would have been spent on meals. The money can be donated to organizations like the Save Darfur Coalition or any of the humanitarian organizations doing relief work around the world.  
Join or Form a Coalition  
Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA launched the Dear Sudan, Love Contra Costa County campaign for education, advocacy, and fundraising for Darfur. As part of the campaign, which included letter-writing, petitions, and a candlelight vigil, Temple Isaiah joined the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, an alliance of 40 member organizations and numerous individual members, including some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most prominent community leaders, activists, and academic experts. Their website is a resource center where activists can obtain and provide information, publicize events, gather news, and share ideas and resources related to the situation in Darfur. Temple Israel also signed the coalition’s Unity Statement, calling for the United States to advocate for UN involvement in the region to bring an end to the genocide.