Darfur is a Jewish Issue

From the Detroit Jewish News (December 25, 2004)

by Sharon Luckerman

A Jewish Issue

Among those bringing attention to what the U.N. called “the worst preventable humanitarian crisis in the world” is the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills. In special lectures and as part of information imparted by the center’s guides, visitors learn the mass murders in Sudan are akin to what Jews experienced and never expected to see again, said Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, HMC founder and executive director.

“Unfortunately, the United Nations makes resolutions but doesn’t have the courage to execute them in constructive ways,” the rabbi said.

“This genocide is certainly a Jewish issue,” added Rabbi Jason Miller, associate director of the University of Michigan Hillel Foundation in Ann Arbor. He gave his sermon on the Shabbat of Conscience as guest rabbi at Congregation Beth Ahm in West Bloomfield.

“Just as God gifted us the light of Torah, it is up to us to plant the seeds of Torah and spread the message of tikkun olam — repairing the world situation — and of righteousness to others,” he told the congregation.

“The phrase ‘never again’ must not be reserved for Jews alone. It is not enough to say that we will never allow our own people to suffer those atrocities again. As Jews, we have an increased moral obligation to speak out and take action against ethnic cleansing regardless of the ethnicity or religion.”

Rabbi Miller got a firsthand account of the problems in Africa from David Post, program associate at U-M Hillel and a recent U-M graduate. Post spent two months in Africa this summer helping displaced people in a slum in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. He also took a three-week tour of other countries.

“I was surprised by the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people,” said Post, who also has traveled to Asia and India. “Africans are among the most gracious I’ve met in the world. My optimism

for the region is not without

the recognition of the great tragedy there. But people should not be scared away from interest in the continent.”

Besides the important humanitarian reasons, Post believes there are mutual benefits in helping Darfur, especially for Israel.

“No one has taken the time to care about Africa, yet it’s going to develop in the next 10 to 20 years with democratic regimes and could be a friend and trading partner with Israel,” said Post, who met Israeli doctors in Uganda who already are building bridges between the two countries.

“It’s very inspiring to talk to the African people because they really want to help themselves,” he said. “It [a democratic society] can happen. The desire is there. But it’s the resources they need to start the process.”

For more information, visit the Web sites: Save Darfur Coalition and the American Jewish World Service

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |