Sephardic Community Rallies Against Genocide in DC
Magazine / June 2006
signs of Never again and Not on our
watch, Jewsyoung and oldrepresenting
dozens of different groups and philosophies, poured onto
the National Mall in Washington DC for the Save
Darfur rally on Sunday April 30, 2006. They had
come from around the country to raise awareness about
the genocide that is occurring in the Darfur region of
Sudan, where a sovereign country is supporting militant
groups that are attacking Sudanese citizens. To date,
hundreds of thousands have been killed and many more injured
in continued violence in this African country.
event featured many prominent voices, including politicians
and Hollywood-types. While the organizers had a permit
that allowed up to 15,000 people to gather, there was
easily twice as many that arrived on that bright warm
day. The gathering was not a Jewish rally,
even though a majority of the participants were Jews.
These groups came after hearing a call from their rabbis,
the Rabbinical Council of America, the Orthodox Union,
Hadassah and other groups, that promoted the event as
a worthwhile humanitarian cause.
the Brooklyn community didnt get the call to participate
from the outside, instead, they learned about it first
hand. Sam Sutton of the Brooklyn Sephardic community traveled
to Darfur and witnessed the situation himself. Once the
rally was scheduled, he and others, in true team effort,
assembled a group that would participate. The Sephardic
Bikur Holim arranged to have a bus ready for community
members that wanted their voices heardthose that
wanted to speak with their feet by being in attendance
and being counted. Rabbi Ricky Hidary of Merkaz Moreshet
Yisrael publicized the event through his organizational
channels, and the AWARE Committee of the Bikur Holim helped
plan the trip. Mindy Elo, Robby Setton, and David Dweck
all pitched in and made it come together.
Elo greeted the over three dozen rally participants at
8am in front of the Sephardic Community Center for the
ride to Washington. After a four hour bus ride,
there we were, standing in front of Capitol Hill. It was
incredible to see such a diverse group of people united
for one cause; coming together to help others that live
on the other side of the world.
Blumenthal of the Sephardic Community Center traveled
with a different group to DC, she said about her experience,
I was enormously proud of the Jewish turnout from
all segments of Jewish life. Glorias synagogue
filled two buses with people. I saw yeshiva students,
ultra-orthodox men and women, members of all synagogue
movements. They were inundating the Mall in Washington
D.C. said noted.
first speaker was famous author and Holocaust survivor,
Elie Wiesel, who with the diplomacy of a statesman stood
at the podium in front of a screaming crowd, and in a
broken up voice stated firmly, In 1943, people were
dying around me in the concentration camp, and the United
States did not help! Now there are others in danger, and
the United States should stand up for them, help them!
groups say people in Darfur have become victims and are
being killed, simply because of the ethnic group they
were born into. We remember that historically Jews had
to have suffer from pogroms and discrimination for the
same reason. Gloria Blumenthal reminds us that we shouldnt
forget this, We have not forgotten our experiences
from both the long ago and recent past, and we dont
want to see others suffer the same as we have; this is
why we are ready to work toward that goal by coming to
rallies on behalf of other groups, such as those in Darfur.
We will let our government officials know that they are
being held responsible if they remain silent.
The author was on the bus and was a participant.