Stand Up for Justice: JCRC in New Haven Holds Rally for Darfur

Original Article Published on The Jewish Ledger

NEW HAVEN — Elie Wiesel, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rabbi Hillel would have been proud.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven assembled a group of Jewish, Christian and community groups for a rally at New Haven City Hall, on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, to focus attention on the atrocities in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

Dr. Milton Wallack, chairman of the JCRC, served as moderator of the rally which featured eight speakers, including rabbis, ministers, an alderman, and an aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro. “We are here to stop the inhumanity, to express outrage, to appeal to the government to do even more,” explained Wallack. “More than 70,000 people have been killed due to the fighting, disease and malnutrition since March, 2004; two million people have been driven from their homes; and 350,000 are expected to be killed in future months.” Wallack continued, “We cannot and will not accept inhumanity to mankind. That is why we have assembled this interfaith, intercommunity group.”

Sydney Perry, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater

New Haven, delivered a passionate address which recounted atrocities of the past century and stressed the Jewish imperative to “remember.” “I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau four times and I ask, NOT Where was God?’ but Where was man?’” Perry stated. She told the crowd it is time for decisive action to stop “wholesale destruction of villages, poisoning of wells and government backed killing militias.”

Rev. Eric Smith, president of Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, reminded the group that “people of all faiths stand for righteousness” and that we must “stand up for justice.” Rabbi Rick Eisenberg, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob and a member of the board of the JCRC quoted from the Torah and Abraham Joshua Heschel and offered hope that “the lights of Chanukah and the Christmas season will help brighten these dark days of late autumn and early winter. We pray for the determination to bring light and hope to alleviate suffering in Darfur.”

Other speakers, including Alderman Yusuf Shah, Yale student and Yale Daily News columnist James Kirchick, and David Waren, executive director, Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, offered history, stories and calls to action to address the situation in Darfur.

According to various information packets distributed at the rally, Darfur is an impoverished region in western Sudan. Darfur is part of a longstanding civil conflict over land, resources and political power. The Sudanese Government has backed Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed. The Janjaweed reportedly “ride into villages on horses and camels, killing men, raping women, destroying the villages and stealing whatever they can find.”

Rally leaders reminded the group that the rally was being held on Human Rights Day. They said that humanitarian agencies have run into roadblocks, including lack of funds from the international community and Sudanese bureaucratic obstacles.

At the conclusion of the rally, attendees were encouraged to sign petitions “calling upon the Government of Sudan and the United Nations to take immediate steps to alleviate the human suffering and to urge the international community to take decisive action to end the atrocities and to allow humanitarian aid to reach the starving, injured and displaced refugees of the region.”

For more information, call the JCRC at (203) 387-2424 ext. 318.

  • Share on: