Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Arad Fundraising Letter

The following is a letter we will be sending out en mass from the Arad section of Garin Tzedek. Many of us will be sending personal versions, but this is the basis:

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you from Israel, where I, along with 300 others, am on Young Judaea’s Yearcourse program. From September until June I will be volunteering and studying here in Eretz Yisrael and living as a member of Israeli society.

As part of my groups experience I have interacted with many segments of the population here. One group that few know about is the 15,000 or so refugees from Sudan and Darfur who have come to Israel as a last resort to escape the dangers of their homeland. As you may already know Sudan was involved in a civil war between the Arab North and Black African South for over 25 years. One result of this conflict has been the burning of South Sudanese and Darfuri villages leading to a mass exodus of over 2 million people from their homes. These refugees have fled all over Africa, including to Egypt. However, Egypt’s government and people have a generally negative attitude towards the refugees and a large number of Sudanese have been the subject of verbal and physical abuse as well as racial discrimination. Because of their inhumane treatment in Egypt, some have fled to Israel, seeking asylum in the Jewish State.

Here, feelings towards the refugees are mixed. Many Israelis see the Sudanese as uncivilized intruders from an enemy state, as Sudan has officially been at war with Israel since Israel’s independence, coming to steal jobs from Jews. Others strive to help the Sudanese community as humanists, Jews, and active Zionists. In our experience in Arad, I have become involved in the issue. Some Year Coursers have volunteered in their work time and free time to help with a local day care and in other projects in the Sudanese community. As a small town with scarce resources, many Aradniks are quick to point fingers at the Sudanese for issues within the town, even sometimes when the Sudanese are not to blame. I have seen with my own eyes the need for support from those Jews that see it as our responsibility to be a light unto the nations and help those in need. In Arad apathy and even antipathy came to a head when early last month, the landlord of a Sudanese daycare center evicted them, not for missing rent, but because he didn’t want them in his building. The police intervened and beat some of the women, and arrested others. While the Sudanese are not guiltless in this situation, they protested illegally in technical terms, this kind of behavior is inexcusable by any Jew, especially an Israeli police officer. Because I have high standards for the Jewish state and our responsibility to the world I have dedicated my time to this cause.

To instigate a change, my friends and I have started an initiative called Garin Tzedek, or in Hebrew, “Seed of Justice” to help the Sudanese community here and across Israel. As a Garin, (seed, or group) we are developing some projects with the refugee community in Arad including improvements to their daycare center, classes teaching Hebrew, English, and Computer skills, and much needed medical, school, and home supplies. We have high ambitions and a will to do great things, however to begin making the impact we desire to have we need your support. One aspect of my program is that my friends and I live relatively modest lives, eating on a stipend of 20 shekels, or about 5 dollars, per person per day. Despite the fact that I only brought 2 bags of possessions and don’t have the money for restaurants and television, I still look wealthy compared to many of the refugees in Arad.

I am writing to you to ask if you’d like to be a part of what we’re doing here in Arad by making a donation. The money you send will pay for school supplies for the classes my friends and I are teaching as well as Medical supplies, toys for small children, and utility bills for community centers. You can follow the progress of our project on the Garin Tzedek blog at seedtheplow.blogspot.com to stay on top of the issue and see articles and photography showing how your donation is used. If you are going to visit Israel this year and would like to see any of our projects please feel free to leave a post on the blog and one of my friends or I will gladly give you a tour and introduce you to the Sudanese here. They are some of the most happy and grateful people, I promise you’ll get a huge hug and meet some of the cutest children you’ve ever seen. If you are interested in donating please send any cash or checks to the following address:

Young Judaea National Mazkirut

Hadassah House 8th Floor 50 W58th Street

New York, NY 10019

If you are writing a check please write it to Hadassah and put “Young Judaea Garin Tzedek” in the memo. Please include a note with your donation explaining who you are and who you heard about the Garin from. My friends are interested in meeting you and knowing who you are. Thank you for your time.


Garin Tzedek Arad



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