September 25, 2023 -
Today I’m starting on a very exciting journey to El Salvador organized by the American Jewish World Service! I was selected to be a part of the Rabbinical Student’s Delegation to the country to serve as ambassadors to the community in El Salvador.
Together we are traveling to the region of Cuidad Romero to work with an organization that is helping rebuild their community after over a decade of devastating civil war. We will likely be working to rebuild some structures for the area and my hope is that our hands and sweat can help us relate to the tears this community has endured over the past century of troubled government and economy.
This trip is not only work to bring dialogue between my colleagues and our southern brothers and sisters, but the experience will bring together students from broad swath of schools, as well as Jewish education students from a handful of colleges across the country. Our construction of buildings in the community in El Salvador will also help us strengthen the structure of the greater Jewish community, between Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and other denominations.
The American Jewish World Service, known as AJWS and found at (http://www.ajws.org) is an organization inspired by Judaism’s commitment to justice, who primarily works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. In the part of the world where I am traveling, AJWS supports 110 projects in 10 countries (within the Americas.) AJWS grantmaking in the region funds organizations that are defending the rights of marginalized groups and working toward justice and equality; promoting access to education, employment and healthcare, and responding to the needs of people during times of emergency.
In the Andean region – Bolivia, Colombia and Peru – AJWS focuses on civil society building, particularly among indigenous communities and people of Afro-descent; peace building, conflict resolution, and coexistence; reproductive health, and support for income generation activities that promote the development of newly empowered communities.
In Mesoamerica – El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Southern Mexico and Nicaragua – AJWS focuses on sustainable livelihoods and development by supporting alternative models for rural development based on sustainable agriculture, promotion of land rights, and community mobilization around trade.
In the Caribbean – Haiti and the Dominican Republic – AJWS partners primarily with community-based organizations run by the organized poor, acknowledging that development and lasting peace on the island will only take root in conjunction with serious efforts to build civil society and foster economic and social opportunities.
I look forward to sharing more about this project when I return to my monthly student rabbi pulpit at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, this coming September. I could not be more excited to be begin, may our journey help bring all of us together and to lead this part of the world a small step closer to being a better place.