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September 22, 2011 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-09-22

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Hunger In Israel

MAZON initiative influences government action.


s we welcome the Jewish New
Year, I have important news
regarding the hunger situ-
ation in Israel. In August, the Knesset
approved a bill forming a
national council for nutrition-
al security. Welfare Minister
Moshe Kahlon, known as
the most active minister in
the Knesset, has pledged to
form the council by early
2012. This bill ensures that all
of Israel's citizens will have
access to healthy food.
I believe that this nutri-
tional bill is one of the most
important bills the Knesset
has ever passed — an accom-
plishment particularly worthy
of celebration.
You may be surprised to
learn that, until the government of
Prime Minister Netanyahu was formed,
the prevalence of hunger in Israel
was firmly denied by its government.
Knowing that food insecurity was, in
fact, an escalating problem in Israel, in
2005 MAZON helped to create a forum
on food insecurity and poverty to study
the situation in detail. The research that
came out of this forum was shocking —
nearly 25 percent of Israelis, including
nearly one-third of children, were food

Israel has no government-sponsored
nutrition programs. So in 2007, MAZON
sponsored several members of the
Knesset to visit with legisla-
tors and officials at the U.S.
Department of Agriculture
in Washington to learn
about our federal nutrition
programs. They visited food
banks and went to schools
to witness firsthand how
effective our national school
lunch program is in America.
Inspired by what they
heard and armed with
information, these influ-
ential members of Knesset
returned to Israel commit-
ted to building the neces-
sary programs to ensure
that all Israelis would be able to eat.
Unfortunately, despite their initial
enthusiasm, they quickly became dis-
tracted by pressing issues of national
security, and their nutrition program
agenda did not advance.
Earlier this year, Moshe Kahlon
became minister of welfare and
Orit Noked, minister of agriculture.
Ministers Kahlon and Noked had been
part of our 2007 MAZON Washington
study group, and I have been in regular

communication with both of them since
that time. When I met with Kahlon on
my most recent trip, he assured me of
two things: that he recognizes the Israeli
government's responsibility to provide
for those who are hungry, and that he is
taking steps that will help his country
meet its responsibility to those hungry
The Israeli government is now on its
way to doing what should have been
done years ago — accepting the impor-
tant role it must play in ensuring that
its citizens have enough to eat. This is a
monumental shift for a government that
for so long denied the existence of this
It appears that the seeds that were
planted by MAZON years ago are start-
ing to sprout. MAZON can and should
be proud of our role in educating
members of the Knesset. Our success
in Israel serves as a powerful example
of what can happen when interested
parties take it upon themselves to get
involved in advocacy — to reach out to
legislators and make their voices heard.
In the coming year, I challenge you
to get involved and make your voice

Joel E. Jacob is international chairman of

MAZON: A Jewish Response To Hunger.

Kaplan fivoi;



The High Holy Days are a time

of personal reflection and

meditation, For Richard Kaplan,

it is a time to join with his many

friends at The Shul lo recite

prayers, atone for past sins and

grant forgiveness to others.

He finds strength and

a sense

of belonging by taking part in

these meaningful traditions.

Whether as a volunteer of

donor, your generou‘..;uptloi

JCRC Honored
For Interfaith Work
Religious leaders representing Christian,
Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths honored
members of Detroit's faith community at
an event commemorating the anniversa-
ry of 9-11 on Sept. 8 in Washington D.C.
The interfaith coalition, Shoulder
to Shoulder: Standing with American
Muslims, Upholding American Values,
recognized the joint work of the
Jewish Community Relations Council
of Greater Detroit and the Council of
Islamic Organizations of Michigan for
their efforts to build bridges between
the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Detroit was among four communities
honored for their efforts. The others
were Arlington Heights, Ill., Boise, Idaho,
and Corvallis, Ore.
JCRC President Richard NCdel accept-
ed the honor on behalf of the organiza-
tion. He has helped to lead the effort to
build a bond with the Council of Islamic
Organizations of Michigan.
The groups were signaled out for two
interfaith health fairs held this summer,
where medical professionals and volun-
teers of both faiths gave of their time to

serve Detroit residents without health
insurance as well as the annual Mitzvah
Day, in which Jewish and Muslim volun-
teers come together on Christmas Day
to serve the community while Christian
neighbors celebrate the holiday.
"The relationship between the Jewish
community and the local Muslim com-
munity is a difficult and complicated
one Nodel said. "These are vehicles
we have used to establish meaningful
exchange and reduce the level of bigotry."
The Shoulder to Shoulder campaign
is an interfaith coalition of 26 diverse
national faith groups, comprised of
Christians, Jews and Muslims dedicated
to ending anti-Muslim sentiment across
the country.
"At a time when anti-Muslim senti-
ments are dominating headlines across
the country and elected officials are leg-
islating through fear, there are hundreds
of local communities like Detroit choos-
ing to celebrate our nation's unique
religious diversity:' said the Rev. Richard
Cizik, president of the New Evangelical
Partnership for the Common Good
and a founding member of Shoulder to

will benefit the men, women

and children lARC serve%,



v,c4w. Piou Wer 3i) 5h opiderCa rope! i9; t.pfg

JCRC President Richard Nodel and

other faith leaders were honored at a

Sept. 8 event in Washington D.C. for

their work in building bridges with the

Muslim community.



• In "Saving Memories" (Sept. 15, page
41), the correct phone number for the
Detroit Video Preservation Company
is (248) 658-8383.


September 22 2011


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