Rabbis Launch Monthly Fast For Gaza

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Evanston, IL – 7/10/09

Contact:

Rabbi Brant Rosen
847.922.9418 (c)
ravboaz@comcast.net

Rabbi Brian Walt
508.560.0589 (c)
rabbibrianw@gmail.com

RABBIS LAUNCH MONTHLY FAST FOR GAZA

Seeking "to end the Jewish community's silence over Israel's collective punishment in Gaza," an ad-hoc group of American rabbis has called for a communal fast. Known as Ta'anit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza, this new initiative will organize a series of monthly fasts beginning on July 16.

The project was initiated by a group of thirteen rabbis representing a spectrum of American Jewish denominations. The group's website explains the religious meaning of the campaign: "In Jewish tradition a communal fast is held in times of crisis both as an expression of mourning and a call to repentance. In this spirit, Ta'anit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza is a collective act of conscience initiated by an ad hoc group of rabbis, Jews, people of faith, and all concerned with (this) ongoing crisis..."

The fast has four goals: to call for a lifting of the Israel's blockade, to provide humanitarian and developmental aid to the people of Gaza, to call upon Israel, the US, and the international community to engage in negotiations with Hamas and all relevant Palestinian parties in order to end the blockade, and to encourage the American government to "vigorously engage both Israelis and Palestinians toward a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict."

The water-only fast will take place every third Thursday of the month, from sunrise to sunset. In addition to signing on to the fast statement, participants have been asked to donate the money they save on food to the Milk for Preschoolers Campaign sponsored by American Near Eastern Refugee Aid, a relief campaign that combats malnutrition among Gazan preschool children.

Since the electoral victory of Hamas in January 2006, Israel has imposed a blockade that has severely restricted Gaza's ability to import food, fuel and other essential materials. As a result, the Gazan economy has completely collapsed and it suffers from high levels of unemployment and poverty and rising levels of childhood malnutrition.

"Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people in Gaza amounts to nothing less than collective punishment. While we condemn Hamas' targeting of Israeli civilians, it is immoral to punish an entire population for the actions of a few." said Rabbi Brant Rosen, who serves Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL, "This blockade has only served to further oppress an already thoroughly oppressed people. As Jews and as human beings of conscience, we cannot stand idly by."

"We've been enormously encouraged by the initial response we've received from the Jewish community thus far," said fast organizer Rabbi Brian Walt, former Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America. who noted that the initiative has signed up numerous supporters prior to the launch of the project. "We truly believe this effort is giving voice to a significant number of people who been looking for a Jewish voice of conscience on this issue."

For more information, visit the campaign website: http://www.fastforgaza.net.