AJWS Asks Supporters to Fight Global Hunger With Money Saved from Yom Kippur Fast

Donations will be Awarded by AJWS as Grants to Grassroots NGOs

New York, NY; September 21, 2009— As part of its recently launched campaign, Fighting Hunger from the Ground Up, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has issued an appeal asking supporters to donate the money they would have spent on food, were they not fasting on Yom Kippur, to AJWS-supported communities building local farming capacity in the developing world.

Invoking the prophet Isaiah, the appeal reads: “‘This is the fast I desire…To let the oppressed go free; to share your bread with the hungry.’

“These are the 2,000-year-old words that we hear chanted in synagogue every Yom Kippur,” AJWS’s Yom Kippur appeal continues. “But what can we do to put them into practice? This year, bring the Yom Kippur liturgy to life by donating the ‘cost’ – we suggest $36 – of your fast for people in the developing world for whom hunger is an ongoing reality.”

Everyday, more than 1 billion people worldwide go hungry and one child dies every six seconds from hunger-related causes. AJWS has launched Fighting Hunger from the Ground Up in order to build awareness in the American Jewish community regarding the political roots of hunger, to emphasize that Jews have an obligation to participate in the struggle against hunger, and to provide channels for Jews to get involved through grassroots advocacy and financial support for sustainable food production in the developing world.

“Hunger is not a result of depleted food supply,” said AJWS president Ruth W. Messinger in a statement. “Ample food is produced each year to feed the world twice over.”

Messinger added: “Inequities in control over the means of food production and distribution— byproducts of public policies, such as free trade and subsidies— encourage the co-opting and degradation of indigenous farmland by large agribusinesses. These policies also enable farming conglomerates to overproduce food and dump their surpluses onto markets in the developing world at cheap prices.

“As a consequence, local farmers who are trying to compete alongside subsidized conglomerates are squeezed and local agriculture is choked. We’re talking about a deeply flawed global food system rooted in politics and thus eminently fixable.

“In Pirkei Avot, we are taught that without sustenance there is no Torah. Without food, it is impossible for communities to thrive, and as Jews in the 21st century, where proximity alone does not define community, we must be concerned with the well-being of all who share our very small planet. We can help end hunger by advocating for policies that protect local farmers in the developing world and by providing impoverished communities with the resources they need to grow their own food.”

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.