AJWS Bay Area: What’s Happening

September 2016

“What can I do to help beyond the annual gift I make to AJWS?”

This is a question I often field from Bay Area donors. There are numerous responses, including advocacy and ambassadorship. But, in my opinion, the best answer is “travel on an AJWS Study Tour.”

Meeting our grantees enables donors to deepen their understanding of where their investment is going. It is literally life-changing to meet the inspiring people who strive to improve the lives of their communities every day. The interactions are also meaningful for the grantees.

Many people who experience human rights violations look forward to an opportunity to be heard and to tell their stories. As Jews, we know the importance and urgency of hearing from Holocaust survivors; bearing witness to their accounts helps to ensure that their experiences will never be forgotten.

An AJWS Study Tour also allows for spontaneous conversations. In Pune, India, we visited a grantee that empowers poor women to earn a living through recycling, while encouraging these largely illiterate Dalit women to keep their daughters in school. We heard a number of women tell how they will sacrifice to ensure their children receive a good education, identifying it as the most realistic step to break the cycle of poverty and prevalent gender-based violence.

When we left, our group got separated as many people milled around us. Those of us at the front stopped to wait for the others to catch up. A young man, barely 20 and dressed in business attire, spoke with me.

His mother is part of the cooperative that we support. He finished high school because she sat with him every day making sure he studied. He now lives in another neighborhood and works in a bank, aspiring to go to college. I asked him how often he visits his family. He looked surprised and told me he comes every day to oversee his four siblings doing their homework. He proudly told me that he is more effective than his mother because he can read and write.

I asked him if he helps his sisters study as well as his brothers. “Of course,” he said. “My mother insists on it, and she is right.”

I could hear and see the pride in this young man’s eyes and could easily imagine his mother’s pride, too. I could never have experienced this conversation if I had not been in Pune. It was a moving exchange.

In the next few months, we will hold a number of informational meetings around the Bay Area for people interested in our Study Tours. Please let us know if you are interested.

Thank you, as always, for your generous support,

Alon Shalev
Executive Director, San Francisco and Western Region

AJWS Bay Area Upcoming Events

Books Beyond Borders Peninsula

Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

The home of Ruthann Richter
Address provided upon RSVP

Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee led a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia—and whose demonstrations culminated in the election of Africa’s first female head of state. Mighty Be Our Powers is Gbowee’s extraordinary story, written in her own words. The book chronicles Gbowee’s very personal response to extreme adversity. Her vivid account gives readers a closer look at Gbowee’s multinational efforts to empower women to bring peace to their countries.

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

An Evening in Uganda With AJWS President and CEO Robert Bank

Tuesday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m.
The home of Cindy and Jay Cohan
Address provided upon RSVP
Please RSVP as space is limited.

Books Beyond Borders Marin

However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903

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.