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December 08, 2011 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-08

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Outrage from page 38

Commentary

Righting A Wrong
Deng doesn't like talking about his
experience as a slave, but does so
because the U.N. won't acknowledge
the root causes of Sudan's unrest.
In front of the Perils of Global
Intolerance audience, he said the
Darfur regional conflict in western
Sudan is not tribal but "rooted in
Arab colonialism as it has typically
been practiced in Africa." The Arabs
who invaded North Africa assured all
Darfuris would be Muslim.
Still, Khartoum Islamists don't view
Darfuris as "Muslim enough:' Deng
said. "And they also do not want to be
Arabized. They like their own African
languages and dress and customs.
They resist Arabization. The Arab
response is genocide. But nobody tells
the truth about Darfur."
It's not easy hearing Deng say the
West has abandoned the plight of the
Sudanese. He explained that chattel
slavery, a centuries-long practice in
Sudan, was revived as a war tool in
the early 1990s; Khartoum declared
jihad (uprising) and legitimized tak-
ing slaves. Arab militias destroyed
southern villages and encouraged
taking African women and children
as slaves. "We believe that up to
200,000 were kidnapped, brought to
the north and sold into slavery',' Deng
said.
"I am a living proof of this crime
against humanity."

Light Unto
The Nations

Israelis Open Arms
Sudanese refugees who found resis-
tance in Cairo had to walk painstak-
ing miles and dodge Egyptian border
patrols before discovering welcome
in Israel.
"The fact that even Darfuris, who
are Muslims, chose Israel above all
the Arab-Muslim states of the area
speaks volumes',' Deng said.
"Israel is racist? Israel is against
the Muslim world? Ask the thousands
of black Muslim Darfuris who found
shelter in the Jewish state said Deng,
who has visited them five times.
The 2011 U.N. Watch Freedom
award winner concluded, "Is Israel a
racist state? To my people, the people
who know racism, the answer is abso-
lutely not. It is a state of people of the
colors of the rainbow. Jews themselves
come in all colors, even black. I met
with beautiful black Ethiopian Jews in
Israel. Israel is a state that has taken
my own black people in, rescued
them and helped them."
What an uplifting message to
ponder this Chanukah season of reli-
gious freedom and redemption. 17

Mitzvah Day on Christmas Day

binds Jews and Christians.

I

n a nearly 20-year tradition in our
local Jewish community, hundreds
of volunteers will transform this
Dec. 25, a Sunday, into Mitzvah Day —
the single largest day of Jewish volun-
teering in Metro Detroit.
The Jewish Community Relations
Council (JCRC), the public affairs voice
of the Detroit Jewish community, orga-
nizes a day filled with options through-
out social service agencies in Metro
Detroit for families and individuals to
give back to our neighbors. As was
said at the recent Black-Jewish Forum
coordinated by the Michigan Chronicle
and the Detroit Jewish News, these are
"transformative times" in our region.
Detroit was the first region hit by
the recession. Our population levels
have plummeted, particularly in the
Jewish community and in the post-
college demographic. Times indeed are
still tough; but with hard work and an
optimistic outlook, Metro Detroiters
are beginning to see improvements.
The Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit's Young Adult
Division and CommunityNEXT are
organizing constant opportunities to
involve young Jews. Local businesses
are focused on attracting and retain-
ing young talent. The Tigers won the
Central Division baseball championship
and the Lions have a chance at making

Greenberg's View

the football playoffs. In addition to the
resurgence of the Big 3 Auto compa-
nies, Detroit is indeed back!
But we are nowhere near where
we need to be, and our neighbors are
still struggling. Mitzvah Day provides
opportunities to give back so we can
perform acts of tikkun olam — repair of
the world.
The JCRC, under the leadership
of president Sharon Lipton, has put
together for Mitzvah Day a full day of
community service projects through-
out Metro Detroit. Instead of a quiet
morning anticipating Chinese food,
a movie and a football game, Detroit
Jewry is charged with transforming
Christmas Day for the Christian staff
of local service organizations into a
day when they can be with their fami-
lies and celebrate their holiday. The
staffs of soup kitchens, nursing care
facilities, food banks, clothing pantries,
animal shelters and so forth deserve a
day off to celebrate their holiday with
families. By volunteering, we not only
provide respite for them, but also can
bring a smile and directly interact with
people in need.
For those who have participated in
Mitzvah Day before, you know first-
hand how enjoyable it is to interact
with folks who are so grateful for a lit-
tle help. It is more than just a smile we

bring; it is enegy, optimism and kind-
ness. It is more than just a hot dish we
serve; it is warmth, care and friendship
we offer. Remember, it is always better
to give than to receive — particularly
during the holidays.
Nearly a year after Chrysler's
"Imported From Detroit" Super Bowl
ad, the theme is still seen everywhere.
On Dec. 25, export yourselves from
your couches and give back. Be a part
of something bigger than yourself.
Sign up with your friends and family.
Volunteer at a senior residence home,
a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter —
or help stock books. There are options
for everyone.
As Jews, it is our duty to be a light
unto the nations. During the dark
days of winter, let us be that light and
brighten the lives of others. Go to
MitzvahDay2011.eventbrite.com and
sign up for Mitzvah Day. If it is not
already an annual tradition for you, it
will be.
Happy Chanukah and see you on
the 25th!

standing
guard

For Israel
And Our Jewish
Community

The new International Atomic
Energy Agency report on Iran's
development of nuclear weapons is
alarming. How do we stop Iran from
developing nuclear weapons and also
funding terror? One way is to help end
America's reliance on foreign oil. To
sign a petition to the U.S. Senate on this
issue, go to: www.dontfundterror.org .

- Prepared by Allan Gale, Jewish
Community Relations Council of
Metropolitan Detroit

0 Dec. 8, 2011, Jewish Renaissance Media

December 8 e 2011

39

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