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African Development: Jewish Values and Africa

Jewish Values and Africa

In the Talmud, it is written that all people are descendants from a single person, so that no person can say, "my ancestor is greater than yours." God created this person from the four corners of the earth — yellow clay, and white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, the earth can declare to no race or color of humankind that it does not belong here, that this soil is not their rightful home. This idea of equality is reinforced because, as Jews, we worship a universal God, a God concerned with the suffering and injustice of all people everywhere. In Africa, the Reform Jewish movement lends its voice most often when humanitarian aid and human rights issues must be addressed.

As Jews, living one generation after the near annihilation of our people, we know too well the danger and the horror of global indifference. Too often, people turn their backs on Africa. However, to us, "never again" is not just a slogan, it is a firm, moral commitment on our part not to stand by in the face of unspeakable hatred and violence. Recent events in Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia and Sudan have all caught the attention of the Reform Jewish community. The Bible forbids us to "stand idly by the blood of [our] neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). Thus, the Movement attempts to lend a helping hand, not turn a blind eye, to countries in Africa whenever possible.