AJWS Enlists 200 Jewish Communities to Observe 2nd Annual Global Hunger Shabbat

Educational Program Encourages Discussion and Action to End Food Crisis

New York, NY; October 31, 2011—American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, has enlisted over 100 synagogues, 20 college groups and dozens of homes across the U.S. to participate in its 2nd annual Global Hunger Shabbat on November 4-5. A weekend of nationwide solidarity, learning and reflection around food justice, Global Hunger Shabbat offers Jews the opportunity to discuss the current food crisis and ways they can help end it.

“Global Hunger Shabbat allows Jews of all ages and denominations to collaboratively explore the root causes of hunger and encourages them to tackle these issues head on,” said AJWS vice president for programs, Aaron Dorfman. “Taking time for this conversation on Shabbat, when food is such an integral part of Jewish tradition, brings our values into dialogue with this critical issue in a powerful way.”  

Earlier this month, AJWS announced its new Reverse Hunger campaign, an initiative to rally the American Jewish community to change U.S. food and agriculture policies—which the organization believes are major contributors to global hunger. This year’s Global Hunger Shabbat is part of the campaign and provides participants with resources about the U.S. Farm Bill and its impact on food prices and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in developing countries. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Farm Bill in 2012, AJWS is calling on the Jewish community to seize this opportunity to band together and push lawmakers to reform key aspects of the legislation that address food aid. The organization maintains that these misguided policies not only delay the arrival of lifesaving food aid, but also perpetuate a cycle of dependence for developing nations.  

“Jews must unite now to urge Congress to create a just food system that reflects our tradition’s vision and values,” said AJWS president Ruth Messinger. “With 900 million people suffering from hunger and the Farm Bill up for revision next year, the time is ripe for Jews to usher in lasting change. Join us for Global Hunger Shabbat to educate yourself about this crisis and feel empowered to do something about it.”

To help individuals, congregations and communities host Global Hunger Shabbat events, AJWS created an online toolkit (available here), which includes:

  • A sample sermon on hunger
  • Readings for use around the Shabbat table to learn about communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are developing innovative solutions to hunger
  • Activities and discussion guides for various audiences and ages
  • Jewish text studies related to global hunger
  • A prayer for the world’s hungry
  • Talking points about food insecurity and aid, along with a reading list on these topics
  • Suggestions for ways that American Jews can take action to end hunger

Immediately following Global Hunger Shabbat, AJWS will encourage participants to complete 18 Days of Action leading up to Thanksgiving. Each day, AJWS will prompt participants over e-mail to take an action that will contribute to the fight against hunger and the campaign to reform the Farm Bill. Every e-mail will include an action that takes three minutes or less as well as a suggestion on how to increase and deepen one’s impact. Throughout the 18 days, AJWS will ask individuals to sign “The Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill” (www.ajws.org/reversehunger).

To sign up for Global Hunger Shabbat, visit www.ajws.org/hunger/ghs.

For More Information

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Tanyanika Davis, Director of Media Relations, at tdavis@ajws.org.