New York, NY; March 11, 2010—AJWS, an international development and human rights organization, estimates that 5,000 people will participate in a “Global Hunger Shabbat” on March 19-20. Global Hunger Shabbat was created by AJWS as a day of solidarity, education, reflection and advocacy to raise awareness about hunger, why it exists and what can be done to help the more than 1 billion people worldwide who are without sufficient food. More than 100 synagogues, 30 college campuses and 40 individuals in 20 U.S. states, Canada and New Zealand have signed up to host a Global Hunger Shabbat in their communities. Additionally, 60 current and former AJWS service program participants will attend and/ or host Global Hunger Shabbat events in India, Cape Verde, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia and Thailand.
“We know that the scope of global hunger can be absolutely overwhelming and the natural inclination for those who can is to turn away,” said AJWS Rabbi in Residence Brent Chaim Spodek. “But the Jewish sage Maimonides teaches that we can’t do good in a world we don’t understand, and we are so glad that so many thousands of people are joining together to help understand the extent of hunger and respond.”
Global Hunger Shabbat is part of AJWS’s campaign, Fighting Hunger from the Ground Up. AJWS launched the campaign this past fall in order to build awareness in the American Jewish community about the political roots of hunger. As AJWS has done on many other issues, the organization is engaging the American Jewish community through tzedakah (charity), political advocacy, education and service, while simultaneously supporting 80 grassroots organizations that are working to reduce hunger in developing countries.
Scheduled to coincide with the Shabbat just prior to Passover, Global Hunger Shabbat will evoke the Passover message of “all who are hungry, let them come and eat,” on behalf of the more than a billion people suffering from hunger worldwide.
“AJWS’s Global Hunger Shabbat is a way for people and communities to come together and deepen their understanding of global hunger,” said Rabbi Spodek. “Through prayer, text study, ritual and action opportunities, people will be changing the way they relate to the larger world and, just maybe, changing the world as well.”
To help individuals, congregations and communities organize and host their own Global Hunger Shabbat events on March 19th, AJWS has created an online toolkit (available at www.ajws.org/hungershabbat), which includes:
- Talking points about hunger and the food insecurity crisis
- An original prayer and sermon prompts designed for the synagogue or community setting
- A Jewish text study and family activity
- “Solidarity Plates” to designate an empty seat at the Shabbat table meant to represent the 1.1 billion people facing hunger worldwide
- Readings for use around the Shabbat table featuring stories about hunger and the solutions communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America are developing to fight it
- Suggestions for ways that American Jews and their communities can take action
- A poster and a community newsletter ad to help publicize Global Hunger Shabbat
AJWS and its grantees in Africa, Asia and the Americas believe that a local approach to realizing the human right to food will most effectively halt food insecurity worldwide. AJWS implements this approach by supporting grassroots change by and for local people in myriad ways—teaching farmers to grow food using sustainable farming methods; endowing communities with seed banks and harvest storage facilities; founding agricultural cooperatives and jumpstarting profitable local markets; and empowering indigenous communities to advocate for their land and water rights. Global Hunger Shabbat offers the American Jewish community an opportunity to join AJWS and its grassroots partners in supporting these critical solutions.
Global Hunger Shabbat toolkits and more information about the program are available at www.ajws.org/hungershabbat. These materials are part of an ongoing collection of educational resources that AJWS has created on global justice topics.
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