A Walk to Remember
Jewish World Watch event aimed at raising awareness of Darfur
By Holly J. Andres, Daily News Staff Writer
June 1, 2007
WEST HILLS - Supporters of humanitarian aid to Darfur, Sudan, will hold a consciousness-raising march on the sidewalks surrounding the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance on Sunday.
The "Walk for Darfur" is sponsored by Jewish World Watch, an Encino-based coalition of more than 54 synagogues that aims to educate the public about the genocide in Darfur, prod the federal government and the United Nations to impose sanctions, and send aid to the estimated 2.5 million people who have been displaced by the violence.
"As Jews we say, `Never again' (that we will allow another Holocaust to occur). `Never again' has to be for everyone. At the Passover Seder, we say that until everyone is free, no one is free. It's ingrained for Jews to worry about everybody," said Tobi Ruth Love, a morals-ethics and history teacher and member of Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks.
"Judaism has 613 Commandments, not just the Ten Commandments. One of those Commandments says, `Do not stand idly by.' We're commanded to do something. To be a practicing Jew, you need to be out there and involved. It's what's right."
Found in Leviticus 19:16, "Do not stand idly by" is the motto of Jewish World Watch, founded in 2004 by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis from Valley Beth Shalom in Encino.
"It's important to pray and protest with one's feet. The walk also brings about the notion of togetherness; that there are other people, not just you, who care," said Schulweis.
"Jewish World Watch's first concern, educate, is raising consciousness about Darfur. It has been successful because it has gotten the attention of the president."
Last Tuesday, President George W. Bush imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals implicated in human-rights abuses in Darfur to prevent them from doing business in or with U.S. companies.
It is estimated that 400,000 Darfurians have been slain in the past four years by Arab militias believed to be supported by the Sudanese government.
Illece Buckley Weber, a member of Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills, said Sunday's walk will help alert passers-by to what is happening in Darfur.
"I think most Americans really care about these things. There's a genocide going on in 2007," said Buckley Weber. "I remember seeing `Hotel Rwanda' and I asked my husband, `Where were we?' When I started to hear about Darfur, I decided that I'm not going to be saying `Where was I?' when Darfur was being turned into a wasteland and people were being raped and slaughtered.
"We have a duty to go in and help these people and put an end to it."
The three-mile walk will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday and end at 11 a.m. with a short program. Congressman Brad Sherman is scheduled to make a statement.
"There has been an incredible outpouring of activism in the west San Fernando Valley on the issue of Darfur," said Tzivia Schwartz Getzug, executive director of Jewish World Watch.
"It actually doesn't take a whole lot of money or energy to help. On our Web site we have `30 second action' to send a letter to President Bush. But I hope that this walk will be a sense of pride to those people and that it has an impact on them that they took the initiative to care."
"Walk for Darfur," 9 a.m. Sunday, Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. or register at www.walkfordarfur.org. Program: 11 a.m.; information fair runs to noon. Call (818) 501-1836 or see www.jewishworldwatch.org.