Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Split

After weeks, maybe a month, of trying to chase down a leader in the Sudanese community (turns out that two people had two different wrong numbers), Alexis, Joel and I were finally able to sit down with Peter, the Sudanese community president of Arad. Peter speaks a descent amount of English compared to others we've encountered and has a good idea of certain aspects of the community, though there seems to be a split in leadership/opinions of the community which is still unclear to me. We asked Peter what the Sudanese community needs - how we can help in Arad. He asked us to teach English/Hebrew to adults on various nights of the week. He also requested specific help from Joel with his English on his computer at home, which Joel did yesterday. We want to paint the entirely white Gan as well, and he welcomed us to do so. As of now, we're working on setting a date and getting materials.

What nineteen year old do you know that doesn't want cookies? Exactly. Directly after volunteering at the Gan today, Alexis and I spent four hours in a minimally equipped Year Course apartment baking cookies which we then sold before and during the break at Ulpan, our Hebrew class. We raised well over 200 nis which is about $60 for our Gan renovating plans.

While most Americans (particularly young Jewish activists as myself) are struck somewhere in their soul and memory by the idea of helping genocide/civil war stricken Africans, its not quite as simple in the democratic and theocratic Israel. So let's ask the question that many are too scared to ask: Do we as Jews have more of a responsibility to help each other than non Jews? If this is the case, does a Jewish life, thus, have a higher value than a non Jewish life? When push comes to shove, how do I, we, as young, American and British human rights activists, but also Jews and Zionists come to a balance? Can one's ideals be right winged and simultaneously be an active member of Garin Tzedek? While most people in the Garin, myself included, have developed personal answers to all these questions, most would have trouble convincing the average Israeli. To me, it seems unreasonable that I'd have to justify to ANY Jew helping a fellow human, particularly one who has been suffering the same fate that we did. These same people who's grandparents hid in the floorboards of Christian homes in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust will ask me how I could possibly spend my year in Israel working with Sudanese people. Maybe there are potentially those who value a Jewish life more. Maybe there are those who feel that as a chanich on a gap year in Israel, that we should be working with Jews. These are all valid arguments and a wide ranged controversy that has kept Garin Tzedek a safe distance from a specific political stance in the past. So there's a struggle, a split. PLEASE, Jews, activists, Zionists, comment. Bring the struggle home, discuss it, post it, tell us what you think.


  1. Tova, Joel, Alexis and everyone involved with Garin Tzedek. I am with you - Meah Achuz. The word "humanitarian" comes from the root "human". Giving to others, whether they be Jewish or not, is one of the essential things that makes us human. Given the problems that Israel has had on the battlefield of public opinion, it is a credit to Am Israel that they have taken in needy refugees and that these refugees are treated with dignity. This stands in stark contrast to Gaza where these refugees have been all but abandoned for decades by their fellow Arabs, even the wealthy Arabs of the gulf states who want to use the situation to make Israel look selfish and inhumane. As Hillel said "And being only for myself, what am I ?". I admire and I am proud of what you are doing. Continue to stand strong for what you believe in your heart and do not let the "nay-sayers" create doubts.....

  2. For the record: Garin Arevim helps all victims of terrorism, not just Jewish ones.