Tzedakah Begins Here
Matanot La’Evyonim is the Jewish tradition around Purim of giving to charity and our Jewish Community Relations Council has chosen the Jewish Federation in Flint, MI, to direct our charitable efforts this year.
For the last several months, the city of Flint has suffered a water crisis that is hard to imagine happening in the United States. Their water supply, something that most of us take for granted will be safe when opening our faucets, is so contaminated that it is unsafe for any use.
The water supply for the city was switched to a more polluted source, causing lead in the pipes to leach into the supply ruining it for human consumption. Reports of discoloration, funny smells, rashes and illness were at first dismissed by local authorities but have now been confirmed by scientific testing.
Lead is a very dangerous substance to be ingested, as it has been linked to permanent brain damage for which there is no treatment. What has happened and is STILL happening in Flint is a complete disaster, brought on by a mix of negligence, politics and gross indifference to others’ suffering. The fact that Flint is a poor, depressed city, with a large minority population has certainly not hastened calls to action to mitigate the situation.
As politicians on both sides of the political divide discuss and plan how to fix this mess (replacing all the pipes in the city, the only surefire remedy will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars), we are all called to action. The Jewish Federation in Flint is purchasing bottled water, water filters and water treatment kits for the entire population affected. While this is only a stopgap measure until a more permanent solution is implemented, it is a necessary one.
We cannot sit by and watch an AMERICAN city be deprived of what should be a basic right not to be poisoned by what comes out of the faucet. Please consider making your pledge to this very important cause. Donate online at www.jewishlouisville.org/purim-appeal-2016 or write Purim Appeal in the note line on your check and send it to Jewish Federation of Louisville, 3600 Dutchmans Ln., Louisville, KY 40205.
Terrorism in Its Many Forms
The current state of things around the world is not good. Large swaths of Syria and Iraq are controlled by a death cult called Islamic State. Its purpose is to terrorize “non-believers” through worldwide terrorist actions like the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, as well as in its local neighborhoods (just this week the Islamic State beheaded a 15-year-old boy for listening to pop music).
Iran and its allies in Syria like the Assad regime and Hezbollah are committing mass atrocities on a daily basis. Over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict to date – most of them civilians and most of them by the Iran backed regime and their allies. This is in addition to the millions of refugees the conflict has created.
Turkey is a perpetual victim of terrorist acts. A car bomb killed 28 people just last week. And this is but a small sample of the terrorist acts occurring on a daily basis, not even mentioning places like Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and Libya.
For our Jewish community, we are particularly sensitive to terrorism directed at Israel, and things are pretty bad there too. It seems that there are daily attempts on the lives of innocent people, whether car attacks, stabbings, and even shootings, causing the entire country to be on edge and frightened. Even the threat of terror is causing angst.
In the Gaza periphery, residents are claiming they can hear tunnels being dug beneath them by Hamas, in preparation for surprise attacks on their communities. Just this week the leader of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israel with their “nuclear bomb,” an attack on Haifa’s ammonia storage facilities that would kill thousands.
There is no magic solution to any of this, and the depressing thing to me is that we, as a species, have yet to learn any lessons from history about the negative consequences of devaluing human life. Military and other security responses certainly have their place and should be used, but they do not address the root causes.
There is clearly no one answer so perhaps we need a complete paradigm shift, and attack terrorism on many fronts. NGOs, military leaders, the U.N., and diplomats need to stop compartmentalizing and work together, maybe a sort of “hack-a-thon” where they all sit in a room and discuss until a solution is found. All other options have already been exhausted…nothing is working.