For ongoing work see www.ajws.org
The JRF Board resolves to join the JEWISH COALITION RESPONDING TO HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA. As a member of the Coalition, JRF commits to mobilizing the Reconstructionist community to encourage education, advocacy, and tzedakah for this important issue.
1. The Tikkun Olam Initiative will distribute to every JRF congregation the "AIDS in Africa" brochure with a cover letter inviting them to participate in the work of the Coalition.
2. The Tikkun Olam Initiative will disseminate to JRF congregations materials from the Coalition to encourage education, advocacy, and tzedakah. Education projects include sermons, workshops, lectures, or attending other groups' programs. Advocacy campaigns will address issues such as access to treatment or debt relief for countries ravaged by the epidemic. Funds raised will be disbursed by American Jewish World Service to grassroots organizations in Africa that are fighting HIV/AIDS through education, prevention, orphan and home-based care efforts.
3. The Tikkun Olam Initiative will forward to interested JRF congregations and members AIDS Advocacy Alerts from the Coalition.
4. The Tikkun Olam Initiative will work with the Coalition to promote awareness of this important issue on World AIDS Day.
The Jewish obligation to respond to the AIDS crisis derives from the Jewish values which require that we not stand idly by when others are suffering, that we help heal the sick.
Our obligation is also driven by pikuach nefesh, the mitzvah which requires us "to save life" and the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting and tending to the needs of those who are suffering from illness.
We are taught that every person is created betzelem elohim - in the image of God - and therefore deserves basic human rights and dignity. As we learn in the Talmud, "Each person, tall or short, deformed or normal, sinner or non-sinner, has a life whose value is infinite, equal to the value of the entire world."
As Jews, we must act in the world in response to need, regardless of race, religion or nationality, acting as Jews doing our part to help heal the world. We need to do this work because our faith, our history and our texts mandate our obligation to address poverty, hunger, oppression and disease wherever we encounter them. We need to do this work because we are enjoined to remember what it means to be strangers. We need to do this work because we are instructed that these are the ways of peace.
In addition, Jewish attention to the crisis imposed by this pandemic will make us better local citizens. As we become active around HIV/AIDS in Africa issues, we will, in many cities, become partners with one of the few U.S. groups that is focused on the African AIDS problem, African-American clergy and community leaders. The opportunity exists to create partnerships of critical importance in our communities as we work on an immense and pressing world problem.
Becoming an active member of The Jewish Coalition Responding to HIV/AIDS in Africa allows us to become Jewish global citizens. In doing so, we make a better world for ourselves, our neighbors, and our children.