AJWS Bay Area: What’s Happening

April 2016

Thank you to all who attended AJWS’s 30th anniversary gala. It was a powerful night as we honored Sir Michael Moritz and our own indomitable Ruth Messinger.

Just as powerful was the haunting tribute expressed by our third honoree, Alejandra Ancheita, founder and executive director of ProDESC, a Mexican organization that helps rural communities understand their rights, and protect their families and land from environmental damage.

Alejandra spoke movingly about her friend and recent Goldman Prize recipient, Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous rights activist who was assassinated in March. As we were preparing for the gala, we learned that another activist from Berta’s organization, Nelson Garcia, was murdered just hours before our event began. Remarks from Alejandra and our incoming president, Robert Bank, reminded us why we had come together. Even at such a difficult time, the celebrations renewed our community’s commitment to defending human rights and honoring those who fight for injustice in spite of the undeniable grave risks involved.

AJWS follows a model that honors and empowers the vision of human rights activists and leaders. We must stand with those who risk their lives to organize their people and community. AJWS is now advocating for the U.S. to push for greater protections for Honduran human rights defenders in the hope of preserving the precious lives of others who lead this struggle. I hope you will join us.

When we sit around the Passover table, when we celebrate our own freedom, let us also think of the incredible courage needed to be a human rights leader and take a stand. And, as we look at our families, please also remember that beyond being courageous human rights leaders, Berta was a mother of four and Nelson, a father of five.

I hope you will use our hot-off-the-presses haggadah, Next Year in a More Just World, at your Seder tables. This gorgeous volume compiles a decade of AJWS’s writings that connect parts of the Seder to our work to promote global justice. May we leave our celebrations with a renewed commitment to protect human rights and end poverty for all people—because although slavery and oppression have tarnished our history, they have no place in our future.

Thank you for supporting AJWS in this crucial work.

Chag Sameach—Happy Passover,

Alon Shalev
Executive Director, San Francisco and Western Region

AJWS Bay Area Upcoming Events

Books Beyond Borders May 2016 (However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy)
Monday, May 2nd at 7:00 p.m.
The home of Jay and Cynthia Cohan in Los Altos Hills
Address provided upon RSVP

Writer and journalist Aimee Molloy shares a personal account of the events that inspired communities throughout Africa to abandon the traditional practice of female genital cutting. The story traces the journey of renowned human rights activist Molly Melching, founder of Tostan—a longtime AJWS grantee that helped communities across the continent bring about this important change. More than a biography, However Long the Night is proof that knowledge of human rights can ignite large-scale social progress.

Please RSVP online. For more information, contact Nina Gerber at ngerber@ajws.org.

Berkeley Parlor Meeting: Empowering Women and Girls in India
Saturday, May 14th

AJWS invites East Bay community members to join us for a parlor meeting on advancing the rights of women and girls in India, a country that is home to one-third of the world’s child brides. AJWS has over 15 years of experience supporting Indian social change organizations. On May 14th, we will hear from Javid Syed, a recognized expert in the field and the director of AJWS’s Sexual Health and Rights program. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss in depth the work of AJWS and its grantees to end early child marriage in India, and explore ways to strengthen and support the status and rights of Indian women and girls. For more details, please email mjavor@ajws.org.