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Thousands Expected to Walk to End Genocide

Meet Valley activists who want to raise consciousness about the atrocities committed in service to Congolese minerals trade as well as genocides in Darfur and Sudan.

Jewish World Watch, an Encino-based organization dedicated to ending genocide and mass atrocities in Darfur, Sudan and Congo, is expecting more than 2,000 people to attend its 5th Annual Walk to End Genocide on Sunday at Warner Center. Dozens of activists from synagogues I’ve covered in this column will be taking part in the demonstration, along with members from churches, the Armenian community and those unaffiliated with institutions, to raise awareness and to encourage our own leaders to act.

“To me the important message of all of this,” said Jewish World Watch executive director, “is that we have built and are continuing to build a community of activists in (the East Vaalley) who care deeply about preventing and stopping genocide."

Schwartz-Getzug is referring to the mass deaths and displacements that have occurred in Sudan and Darfur in the course of that region’s years-long civil war and the government’s policy to destroy Christian populations living in the country’s oil-rich southern territories.

In Congo, nearly six million lives have been lost in the violent campaign by ruthless militias to control the country’s multi-million dollar trade in minerals that go into all of our electronic products from cell phones to digital cameras to laptop computers.

“This a time when the news is filled with crises, some man made some not, all over the world, and we feel that it’s extremely important for us not to allow the continuing atrocities happening in Sudan and Congo to fall by the wayside," said Schwartz-Getzug.

Comments of Valley activists who want to see an end to genocide in our world are under their photos in the picture gallery accompanying this article.

l’s AAE Lions will be fielding 19 members. Team captain Julee Levine, the synagogue’s director of youth education and programs, as well as young walkers Talia Bromberg and Noah Breakman.

Another teen member of the congregation, Rachel Marcus, will be leading walkers from her school New Community Jewish High School. Team New Jew lists ten walkers.

Daniel Ballin, captain of Team , grew up with Schwartz-Getzug. His team boasts ten members including Rabbi Joshua Samuels, whom you may have seen last week as King Elvis of Persia in the community’s .

, the orthodox congregation, was not available for an interview but their team comprises 19 walkers and they’ve raised $652 with just of few of the donations reported as of this writing.

in Sherman Oaks has a new leader, Rabbi Beryl Padorr, walking with the community this year and an old tradition of turning out a huge team for the walk. This year they join together to honor the memory of the temple’s late, beloved Jewish World Watch liaison Shelli Schwartz who passed away this year. The congregation of 100 member families is fielding a team of 51 walkers.

Said team captain Meagan Yudell, a longtime family friend of Schwartz and her husband, “It is up to any individual of this temple to keep the eternal light of Temple B’nai Hayim and the Grau Religious School by continuing its legacy in support of Shelli.”

Rabbi Padorr commented on behalf of the temple, “Shelli was a dynamic force in this congregation where social action is concerned and her absence is greatly felt in this community and I’m sure the rest of the world where she endeavored to help.”

Rabbi Padorr’s explanation of her faith-based commitment to participating in the walk appears with her photo in the picture gallery.

Registration for the three-mile walk begins at 8 a.m. at Warner Center Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd.,Woodland Hills. For directions, parking information and any other questions check the website.

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