New York, August 13, 2004 - The Union for Reform Judaism announced this week the creation of the Sudan Relief Fund, a humanitarian relief fund to address the needs of victims of genocidal violence in Darfur, Western Sudan. The United Nations and others are calling the ongoing humanitarian crisis the worst in the world today. Already hundreds of thousands of ethnic black Africans have been forced to live in refugee camps with virtually no water or sanitation, suffering from malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and cholera. The Fund has been created to address the crisis, which the U.S. estimates may claim the lives of athird of a million people by the end of the year. Individuals can contribute to the Fund on-line atwww.urj.org/relief
or mail checks to the Sudan Relief Fund at the Union for Reform Judaism.
The Reform Jewish Movement has also joined with more than 70 other faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights groups in the Save Darfur Coalition to designate Wednesday, August 25 as a national Interfaith Day of Conscience. Synagogues, churches, mosques and community organizations throughout the country are being encouraged to raise public awareness and demand international action to stop the slaughter and death, allay the humanitarian disaster, ensure protection for the victims, and bring the perpetrators of genocidal crimes to justice.
The Reform Jewish Movement has been very active in both raising public consciousness and decrying what has been shameful inaction by the international community in the face of the crisis in Darfur. Last month, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was arrested at the Embassy of Sudan at a demonstration where he called for increased action to stop the genocidal violence and man-made humanitarian disaster occurring in the region. In a letter to rabbis and congregational leaders concerning the crisis in Darfur, Robert M. Heller, Chairman and Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, of the Union for Reform Judaism, noted, "The Reform community has a long history of leadership in addressing such crises. In the case of Sudan, the need is both humanitarian and political, and requires a multi-faceted approach."
The Reform Jewish Movement will work with its coalition partners in the Jewish Coalition for Sudan Relief, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the American Jewish World Service to identify the most appropriate recipients of these humanitarian funds.