I am delighted to share my first newsletter of 2016 and to take note of the many accomplishments of AJWS in the past year—which I know make you as proud as they make me! I was inspired by AJWS’s blog listing the top 10 human rights triumphs our grantees and staff helped shepherd in 2015. In case you missed it as the new year rang in, it’s worth spending a few minutes reading it to get a powerful recap of the exceptional work made possible through your support and dedication in 2015. Also, I hope that you will enjoy this “year-in-review in photos” video!
There is so much for us to look forward to in 2016! We are less than two weeks away from our AJWS-Los Angeles 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration on March 13, an evening which will celebrate AJWS’s leadership in the world as a Jewish voice for ending poverty and promoting human rights. Over three decades, we have faced some of the greatest challenges of our age: genocide, AIDS, violence against women and girls, hatred of LGBTI people and other minorities, and the horrific consequences of natural and human-made disasters. More details about the event, our extraordinary honorees, and fantastic entertainment and host can be found below. I am looking forward to sharing this memorable evening with so many of you who continue to partner with us as we work towards a more just and equitable world.
We can all—grantees, donors and the entire AJWS family—be proud of what we have accomplished. But perhaps more importantly, this is the launch of the next 30 years as we join together to leave this world a better place than how we found it.
Thank you for being a part of the AJWS-Los Angeles family,
Allison M. Lee
Executive Director, AJWS Southern California
AJWS at 30: Celebrating Our Global Leaders
It’s the biggest night yet for AJWS-LA! Our inaugural Los Angeles gala will honor bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D.; United States Senator Barbara Boxer; and AJWS grantee Alejandra Ancheita from Mexico. We’ll also celebrate AJWS President Ruth Messinger and her 18 years of leadership as she transitions to our first Global Ambassador. In typical LA fashion, we’ve rounded up a series of entertainers to liven up the evening. Our celebrity host is the comedian, actor, writer and producer Nick Kroll (The League, Kroll Show). We’ll see exciting performances from Adaawe, an all-women West African fusion drumming group, and Shakti, a traditional Bharatanatyam Indian dance company. Our reception will also feature an incredible array of tasty global cuisines. We’re thrilled to be sold out, but encourage you to join the waiting list by sending an email to email@example.com. You may also show your support of our 30th anniversary and Ruth’s leadership by making a gift at ajws.org/donate/mar13/.
Mayim Bialik and AJWS
Last November, actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik hosted our Global Circle Reel Action/Real Change annual film event. After meeting with AJWS grantee Khun Khit San of Burma, she wrote a piece on her site Groknation.com discussing the power of individuals as human rights defenders and the important role of art in repairing the world. As Mayim writes, “For me, as an artist who believes in the art community’s responsibility to not just entertain but to educate, transform and change the brokenness in the world, it was an unbelievably inspiring night.” Read her full story here.
Global Circle Corner
In February, members of our Global Circle young professional community gathered for dinner at Araya’s Place Thai restaurant to hear the latest on the courageous work of human rights activists AJWS supports in Thailand. We’re continuing our globally-themed dinners in the coming months, so keep an eye out for the next invitation in your inbox!
A Taste of AJWS
In the coming year, we hope to launch “A Taste of AJWS”—a program that pairs delicious food from around the world with an appetite for social justice! During a private cooking class with options from Thai to Mexican, we’ll explore a particular country’s cuisine and gain insight into AJWS’s work in the region. We want to make this program a success, so we’re enlisting your help! Share your thoughts here through this survey.
What We’re Reading
Our Books Beyond Borders pick for April is Ladies of Managua. Evocative of Nicaragua, its tumultuous history, and vibrant present, the novel charts the lives of three generations of magnetic women wrestling with the demons of their country’s revolutionary past and their hopes and dreams for the future. Our next session in partnership with IKAR will take place April 6, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. RSVP here to save your spot or contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in joining our Global Circle group for young professionals on April 4, contact Emma at email@example.com. We’re always looking to expand our Books Beyond Borders series, so if you’re inspired to lead your own group you can also reach out to Emma for more information.
AJWS at Your Seder: Seeking Justice, Yesterday and Today
With Passover approaching next month, we will be publishing a digital booklet highlighting our best Passover readings over the years with some additions for 2016. This beautiful compilation of Haggadah supplements and Passover readings explores the themes of contemporary social justice and action that can be integrated into the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. Email Miriam Kassow at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your digital copy or check our website in the coming weeks.
AJWS in the News!
Our latest video, “On the Road: Khushi’s Story,” highlights the impact of AJWS grantee Azad Foundation’s “Women on Wheels” program and was featured on “Women in the World” in association with The New York Times.
AJWS Executive Vice President and Incoming President Robert Bank reflects on his trip to Cambodia in “Our Duty to Reject Despair: How Young Cambodians are Changing Their Country.”