Culver City Observer -

Walk To End Genocide Is Coming Up

 

April 16, 2015

By Sandra Coopersmith

Features Writer

Sit idly by? Never! For Jewish World Watch ("JWW"), a hands-on leader in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities and one that has raised more than $12.5 million for relief and development projects impacting tens of thousands of people in Sudan and Congo, indifference is clearly not an option.

Founded in 2004, JWW, which represents 375,000 people across the United States, has grown into a national coalition that includes temples, schools, churches, individuals, communities and partner organizations working toward a world without genocide, as expressed in its laudable mission.

JWW was created to educate target constituencies by developing appropriate materials and programs; advocate for policies to stop or prevent genocide and other atrocities through community organization and mobilization; and develop resources and allocate funds towards relief and development projects aimed at empowering and alleviating the suffering of survivors.

In keeping with its mission, JWW seeks to engage individuals and communities to take local actions that produce powerful global results, actions such as the 9th Annual Los Angeles Walk to End Genocide that will take place on Sunday, April 19 in Pan Pacific Park, 7600 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (see la.walktoendgenocide.org). The event will include a variety of activities as well as food, art and music.

The Walk, which is being held in collaboration with an afternoon program for Yom HaShoah (the Day of Holocaust Commemoration) at the L.A. Museum of the Holocaust ("LAMOTH"), coincides with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, both to be memorialized during the day.

The museum's roots go back to 1961 when a group of Holocaust survivors, who were taking English as a Second Language at Hollywood High School, got together and shared their experiences. Since they each had something – a photograph, a concentration camp uniform, etc. – that traced back to the Holocaust era, they decided these artifacts needed a permanent home, a place where the dead could be remembered and honored, and where the world could be educated so that no one would ever forget.

LAMOTH, the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States, is located in Pan Pacific Park and is always free because its founders insisted that no visitors ever be turned away from learning about that epic tragedy for lack of an entry fee.

The afternoon ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. and will feature Mayim Bialik, who stars in The Big Bang Theory, as keynote speaker. There will be remarks by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the invocation will be given by Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR.

Culver City will be well represented at the Walk with many participants, including a group of Girl Scouts organized by Hayley Rothbart, a socially conscious young Culver City resident who is a sixth-grader at Culver City Middle School and a proud 2014 graduate of El Marino Language School, where she participated in the Spanish Immersion Program.

Hayley, a member of Troop 5635 since third grade, first engaged in the Walk last year.

"For my Bat Mitzvah, I am working with JWW," she said. "When I learned about the work they do, it inspired me to do the Walk. I was very shy about asking people to join me so I decided to start with people I am comfortable with. At a Girl Scout meeting I talked about what JWW does and asked them to join me."

Currently she has seven team members and is "hoping more people will join. At the April Neighborhood Council meeting, I will invite other troops to join me. If people are interested in joining our team, they can go to la.walktoendgenocide.org/team-culver-city-youth."

She welcomed this opportunity to express gratitude to "Eden Banarie, the youth engagement director of JWW, for helping me learn about the work of JWW. I want to also thank Gail Solo, a JWW board member, for helping me stay connected with JWW. And I want to thank my mom for encouraging me to participate."

Hayley's message to the community: "Join Team Culver City Youth: It is a small thing to do for a big result! We can make a difference one step at a time."

Culver City's Temple Akiba, which is part of JWW's coalition, is committed to taking those vital steps and has assembled a team for the Walk.

"Our Bible teaches no fewer than 36 times, 'Do not treat others as strangers, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,'" said the temple's Rabbi Zachary Shapiro. "Why so many times? Because the core of our existence depends on how we treat others. No one is free until all people are free. And so, we walk. We walk to end genocide. We walk to begin a new era of peace."

As the Walk's website proclaims, "It's not just a Walk – it's a Celebration of our community of conscience!"

 

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