Their motto is “Challenge yourself, change the world”
Their motto is “Challenge yourself, change the world”
Girl Rising is a film, a curriculum, a leadership tool and nothing short of a revolution. There are 66 million girls around the world who dream about going to school. This movement is about changing the way the world values girls.
This film paired each girl with a writer from her native country to tell her story. Girls Rising invited many well known academy award winning actresses to give voice to their stories. This film is about nine girls from developing countries who overcome tremendous odds and challenges to pursue their dreams.
This global campaign involves educators, provides leadership opportunities and invites community action. Girl Rising has partnered with “Theatrical On Demand”, Gathr Films, that provides an opportunity for every community to create screenings of the film based on demand. As of his writing, there are 8 screenings nationwide and over 145,000 tickets sold. You can arrange a screening in your local theater on the website below.
See the preview, you will be inspired and hopeful about the strength of the human spirit. Be part of the change, one girl at a time. Help educate girls and change the world.
It is refreshing, even hopeful to look at pictures of the Open House Peace Camp. This camp which has been running for 23 consecutive years is geared for 6-12 year olds. This summer, 70 Jews and Arab children from the towns and villages in the area are attending despite what is happening around them. Open House Center in Ramle, a peace education center, was founded in 1991 to further peace and coexistence between Israeli Arabs and Jews.
With experience and training, this oasis from war confronts fear, hatred, stereotypes of the ‘other’ that comes with living in a divided society. The children, families and staff will be challenged with confronting the fear of children being kidnapped, maimed or killed as the violence escalates. The children learn and through them their parents learn about the language, culture and music of each others heritage.
So far, one day of camp had to be canceled and some field trips suspended but this camp, thankfully continues. The war on the ground and the war of the press will certainly affect these families who are combating bombs and rockets with cooperative games, shared experiences and the fun of summer camp. You may wonder how will the current escalation of violence affect these children who are growing up amidst the pain and loss associated with war.
The Open House Peace Camp is a testament to those who believe there can be peace between conflicting factions. At Open House these children and families have the opportunity throughout the year to attend events and deepen their friendships. As a result, many of these campers come back year after year.
Their newsletter states: “We, at Open House feel for both sides, and we pray for both sides.” I believe their message is: peace begins with us.
Amidst all the news about the escalation of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, a movement called “Choose Life”, will organize Jews and Arabs from all over the world to learn, pray, talk and fast on Tuesday, July 15th.
The organizers are Jews and Arabs from the West Bank who live and work side by side. Their effort is to create a path of nonviolent protest through a joint fast. For the Jews, the 17th of Tammuz is a fast day which commemorates the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD. Tuesday is also the 18th day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
The idea to get together for a joint prayer session started after the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys. “We heard from the Palestinians that they weren’t sleeping at night, that they found themselves looking at their children, and thinking about the three boys,” said Eliaz Cohen who lives on kibbutz Kfar Etzion. “We spoke about our hopes and dreams.”
After the three Israeli teens and the Palestinian teen were found murdered, the group looked for another way to share their grief and mourn. The idea for a joint fast spread through Facebook and includes synagogue communities and mosques in the US, London, Paris and Kuwait.
This effort brings support from the Israeli Orthodox world ( Rabbis Benny Lau, David Lau and Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, and Masorti Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum) and secular Israelis.
Perhaps, this small but organized effort will gain the attention of the world and its leaders to find another way to respond to the extremists who initiated acts of violence against the teens, our most innocent victims.
If nothing else, it offers an opportunity for Jews and Muslims around the world to share our mutual concerns and see what we have in common; our families, our dreams for the future and our hopes for peace.
The whole world is watching World Cup Soccer, taking notice of the winners and the losers, the triumphs and the tears. This is a story about a couple, Tim and Lisa Jahnigen, who are more interested in giving everyone a chance to play. They have a goal of giving out 1 million soccer balls to poor children all over the world by the end of the year.
Tim and Lisa have discovered that the poorest children will use rag balls and improvise with whatever materials they can find to play soccer. The Janhnigens have found a plastic that is cheap and indestructible. Lisa and Tim believe it will withstand the harshest conditions for the world’s children who play on every kind of field imaginable. They will give these balls out to children in 170 countries.
The popular artist, Sting, gave the initial investment. Soccer, which is the most popular sport in the world, will perhaps find new superstars among our poorest children by giving them a ball and a dream, thanks to the Jahnigens.
The three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed last week came from Gush Etzion, a cluster of settlement communities located in the Judean Mountains, between Jerusalem and Hebron. The chair of the religious council of Gush Etzion, Rabbi Rafi Ostroff, invited the Palestinians from the Hebron area to make a shiva call, a Jewish tradition to visit those who are grieving the death of a loved one and comfort the bereaved.
The Palestinians came and paid their respects and the mother, Rachel Fraenkel, received them.
One of the visiting Palestinians said: “I see before me a Jewish family who has lost a son opening the door to me. That’s not obvious. It touched my heart and my nation.”
The Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, during his visit to the Fraenkel home had an opportunity to speak with Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of the Palestinian boy, Mohammed, who was murdered and assumed to be a revenge killing.
Mayor Barkat suggested that Abu Khdeir speak to Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel who recently told the press that “the life of an Arab is equally precious to that of a Jew. Blood is blood, and murder is murder, whether that murder is Jewish or Arab.” The two men comforted one another by telephone.
The Parents Circle- Families Forum, a NGO, is a joint Palestinian Israeli organization, established in 1995, committed to peacebuilding and reconciliation between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost a loved one in the ongoing Mideast conflict. The organization has over 600 families ( 300 families from each side) who listen to each others narratives, finding comfort in the process.
This NGO concludes that the reconciliation between these two nations is a prerequisite to achieving a sustainable peace.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. As we prepare to celebrate our country’s independence on July 4th tomorrow, it is a good time to reflect on the civil rights of our time. What have we accomplished in the 50 years since this historic moment?
How do most people remember LBJ? While Johnson’s presidency is clearly tainted by his escalation of the Vietnam War, he nevertheless helped this country find its moral and ethical center. His domestic policies focused on those who were marginalized and suffered.
As a nation, how much do we credit LBJ for furthering civil rights in this country? He fought hard political resistance and won by signing three crucial laws during his tenure as president: the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act a year later in August, 1965 and the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
Many would agree that we have more work to do to ensure that all people have justice and freedom in this country. As we celebrate July 4th tomorrow with parades, BBQ s and fireworks, let’s remember, question and reflect how far we have come and how much work there is still left to do.
Let’s credit LBJ for his leadership on civil rights. Let’s celebrate being a citizen of a nation that is proud of its principles and values to believe and strive for equal rights, for justice and freedom for all!
Today is a particularly challenging day for optimism. The Jewish world is mourning the death of three Israeli teenagers abducted 18 days ago and found yesterday buried in the West Bank. The response was swift and decisive. Israel launched air strikes targeting Hamas suspects and the Hamas dominated Gaza Strip. In return, Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets toward Southern Israel.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (who died in the Jewish calendar on the 3rd day of Tammuz, July 1, 2014). Known as the The Lubavitcher Rebbe, he was the most influential rabbi in modern history and served as the seventh and last Hasidic leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.
The Rebbe had escaped Europe in 1941 and made it his mission to rebuild Jewish life after the great loss of millions of lives in the Holocaust. He was a pioneer of Jewish outreach and inspired his followers to act with love and without fear to all people, one person at a time. As a result, he created a network of religious and social institutions worldwide including schools, drug rehabilitation centers and homes for the disabled, spreading an ethical and moral message of divine awareness.
How do we connect the anniversary of a leader who preached non judgmental love for all mankind with the grief, mourning and retaliation of today’s headlines? How do we, each of us, transform loss to growth, despair to hope, grief to love?
Perhaps its one prayer, one good deed, one person at a time.