Friday, October 16, 2009

Arad Sudanese Cultural Event

On Thursday, October 22nd the Sudanese community of Arad will be having a community wide event to display dances, songs, food, and general culture from Sudan. The community is not only very different than the Jewish, or really any other community, in Israel, but also has a large variance and diversity within itself. In Arad alone, a city with five to six hundred Sudanese there are three ethnicities, the Nuba, Nuer, and the Dinka, that are strongly represented, as well as the Keiga, Darfuri, and Bari and possibly more. In Sudan there are more than 500 tribes of mixed Arab, and African roots.

Although the planning for the celebration has suffered some hiccups with logistics, as well as the death of a close family member, still living in Sudan, of one the local leaders, it seems that the celebration will continue as planned. Some members of Garin Tzedek have had the fortune of being invited to attend the event, being held to celebrate the upcoming local elections that will be held within the Sudanese community. We're most definitely looking forward to it, and will have stories and pictures to post afterwards.

The elections, the stated reason for the celebration, are an important step for the Sudanese in Arad. The current leadership was not elected in any way, but instead self appointed because they were among the first 51 Sudanese to be placed in Arad and were given a permanent residency status. In the upcoming vote, slate for late October, each of the three largest ethnic communities will elect two leaders to serve on a joint council of six members. While the board will have no legal authority with the city of Arad or the state of Israel, their responsibility will be to represent the interests of the community. These main issues revolve around legal status and protection for the community, the vast majority of whom need to renew their visas every three months. The lack of permanent status is the root of many other issues with employment, housing, and general acceptance within the community. The Arad section of the Garin is working with some leaders, and will hopefully meet with the new council to discuss different projects to help tutor children and parents in English, Hebrew, and computer skills, to set up speaking engagements at schools in Arad, and to establish repeated community volunteering projects for the Sudanese community to help themselves and other sectors in Arad, hopefully improving their image in the city. This celebration should hopefully signify a new beginning in the community and is sure to be delicious, entertaining, and educational.

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