AJWS Brings Jewish Communal Leaders to Capitol Hill To Protect International Food Aid as East Africa Famine Continues

Rabbis, Rabbinical Students and Educators Draw from Experience in Developing World with AJWS to Lobby Congress on Proposed Foreign Aid Budget Cuts

Washington, DC; September 12, 2011—An inter-denominational group of 20 rabbis, rabbinical students and Jewish educators from across the U.S. will meet with their local members of Congress this afternoon about preserving funding for international food aid. The cohort, led and trained by American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, believes that proposed budget cuts to emergency food aid are irresponsible and reckless as millions of people in East Africa suffer from acute food shortages and malnutrition and the global food crisis rages on.

All of the participants in today’s lobbying group have traveled with AJWS to the developing world on Rabbinical Students’ Delegations (RSD) where they witnessed extreme poverty and the critical need for aid programs that both address immediate needs and invest in long-term solutions that empower and enable communities to become self-sufficient. Today’s lobbying reflects their efforts to advocate for international development policies that effect positive change and address America’s moral obligations to the world’s poor.

“These passionate Jewish leaders have left their pulpits and studies to come to Washington so that Congress understands their refusal to stand idly by in the face of proposed budget cuts that will end food assistance to millions of people facing starvation,” said AJWS director of advocacy, Timi Gerson.

In addition to urging Congress to protect fiscal year 2012 funding for poverty-focused foreign assistance, specifically international food aid, from disproportionate cuts under the new debt ceiling deal, the AJWS group is also advocating that Congress pursue a more sustainable food aid system. This would involve an approach that prioritizes purchasing food locally or regionally so that developing world communities can become more resilient and food secure—and less dependent on U.S. assistance.

“We are here because our community cannot remain silent when such desperate need exists,” stated Shuli Passow, a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. “This is an opportunity to share our experiences with our representatives and communicate our concern for this critical issue.”

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