Jewish World Watch co-founder and president Janice Kamenir-Reznik was honored at the organization’s biennial fundraiser, which took place this week at Westwood’s Sinai Temple. The agency created a multimedia environment to demonstrate to supporters the conditions in Darfur, Chad and the Democratic Republic of that it is working so tirelessly to alleviate.
“It’s creative, inventive, important,” said Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe, “and I think brings a much wider awareness to the Jewish community of suffering outside of the Jewish community which is also part of our responsibility.”
Docents led guests through a photo gallery that illustrated the lush beauty of those countries while describing the mass atrocities to which their populations have been subjected. Over 45,000 people die every month in the Congo—5.4 million have been killed to date. Approximately 400,000 have been killed in and 3 million refugees displaced.
The video shows guests in the “activism” room engaged in advocacy and support actions set up for them. They were able to record messages to refugee school children and to insert words of comfort and encouragement into an interactive art piece. Visitors were given postcards to send to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to put pressure on the Sudanese government to stop victimizing the people of Darfur.
More postcards were available to send to electronics manufacturers letting them know that supporters want equipment made with conflict-free minerals. Tantalum, tin and titanium are extracted from Congo “on the backs of women and girls,” said Kemenir-Resnik. The story of conflict minerals mining was detailed in a previous Patch .
Violence against women is a problem even for refugees in camps in Chad. Jewish World Watch’s solar cooker project aims to keep women from having to leave the camp to forage for firewood, risking being attacked and raped. Instead, they can use the power of the African sun to heat their cook pots using a reflective cooker manufactured by women in the camps.
Rachel Andres, director of the Solar Cooker Project, cited a study showing trips outside the camp by women have been reduced by 86 percent as a result of the use of solar cookers.
Jewish World Watch was co-founded six years ago by Kamenir-Reznik and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino in response to the genocide in Darfur.
In his presentation of honors to his colleague, Rabbi Schulweis invoked the founding passion and purpose of Jewish World Watch:
Once, not long ago, we asked the world where were the marches of sympathy, the sermons of protest; the pastors, the priests, the Pope, who could have at least excommunicated the Nazi predators? Our questions were swallowed up in the hole of silence. We were dearly disappointed. The children of civilization were shamed.
The scarred history is seared into our memories. But today, we are more than victims. We are rescuers.
Janice Kamenir-Reznik’s heart beats like wings of the butterfly, stirring winds of goodness, currents of consequences that uplift the sorrow of abandoned men, women and infants. She has taken part in the consolation of an orphaned humanity, in the comfort for the persecuted who know those healing words: “You are not alone.”