NEW YORK, June 15, 2007 — Over 1,000 people gathered in New York City on Wednesday, June 13, to honor American Jewish World Service and former President Bill Clinton. The inspiring event, “Partners in Global Justice: An Evening with Former President William Jefferson Clinton,” was an opportunity to celebrate AJWS’ commitment to pursuing global justice through grassroots change and to recognize President Clinton for his global humanitarian work, particularly his work on HIV/AIDS in the developing world and on behalf of the victims of the December 2004 tsunami.
Held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the evening also honored the work of Ann Curry, television broadcaster, and Glennis “Mama G” Mabuza, who directs community outreach programs at HIV South Africa (HIVSA), an AJWS grantee.
“More than anything else I came here to thank AJWS for the work you do,” President Clinton, who was introduced by James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, told the audience. “For the work you do around the world in 36 countries, and for doing it in partnership with local organizations, many of which would not be able to do their work were it not for you.”
Noting the significance of AJWS’ work combating HIV/AIDS, promoting women’s empowerment and advocating for an end to genocide in Darfur, President Clinton applauded AJWS and the Jewish community for its commitment to helping those in need. “Because of the instruction of your faith to repair the world, you do it everywhere,” Clinton noted. “And the echo effects are enormous.”
Ann Curry, co-anchor of “Dateline NBC” and news anchor for “Today,” was honored after President Clinton for her work advocating for an ending to the genocide in Darfur. Accepting her award, Curry noted that being present at “Partners in Global Justice” was a way of “coming full circle.” She learned about the Holocaust at a young age, and her awareness of that genocide has informed and motivated her work on Darfur, which subsequently brought her to the attention of AJWS.
The evening concluded with the inspiring words of Mama G from AJWS grantee HIV South Africa. Mama G’s energy and power was a wonderful conclusion to the evening, where guests joined her in singing a South African song of pride and hope.
For AJWS President Ruth Messinger, it was appropriate that the event occurred at Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Jazz takes old standards and reinterprets them for the modern age, and at AJWS we are committed to taking some really old standards – about 4,000 years old, to be exact,” Ruth told the audience, referring to the Jewish texts and traditions that underpin the work of AJWS. “We all need to rise to that ancient and ever new challenge of making our world a safer, more just, more humane place for everyone shaped in the divine image.”
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David L. Marcus