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Rabbi Harold Schulweis rallies help for the oppressed abroad

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Motivated by the Holocaust

The seeds of activism were planted early, while Schulweis was growing up in the Bronx with immigrant parents who'd fled Nazi Germany. As episodes of genocide and ethnic cleansing have repeated themselves over the decades, Schulweis decided to make his formal stand.

"Don't I remember what Jews preached and taught and heard: 'Where are the nations of the world?' " he says, sitting in his library at his hilltop Encino home.

"Where are the churches of the world? Where are the priests, pastors, the bishops, and the pope?" he asks. "And will my children and grandchildren ask of me, 'Where was the synagogue, where were the rabbis, and where were you during Rwanda when genocide took place in 1994?' "

By all accounts, those ideas – which he crystallized in his founding speech for JWW – galvanized his local congregation, spreading to other synagogues and then to Christian churches until in a matter of months a broad structure was in place that has continued to grow.

Word-of-mouth support

Schulweis remains the guiding hand. That means making sure his grass-roots foreign-aid programs are not temporary or patchwork. He has seen to it that they are sustained by speakers bureaus peopled with volunteers aged 13 to 83. The speakers have reached 30,000 young people in public, private, and parochial schools about the plights of Darfur and other global trouble spots: political detainees in Thailand, refugees in Somalia, border violence in Nepal/Bhutan and Pakistan/India.

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