Noah Gradofsky's Young Rabbis' Delegation Fundraising Page


Team Fundraising Goal: $2,000.00

Total Number of Gifts: 13
Total Value of Gifts: $1,060.00

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About The Young Rabbis' Delegation

Being a part of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Young Rabbis' Delegation was a truly profound experience.

We spent most of our time in Muchucuxcah, Yucatan, Mexico.

For six days, we became part of a community. We ate meals at local homes and talked with our hosts about their lives in Muchucuxcah and our lives in the US realizing how much of life is truly universal. We helped to carry cinder blocks and bags of sand, part of building fish tanks, which would be a direct source of nutrition and a source for nutrient-rich water for irrigation. We shared communal meals and countless friendly "hola!"s as we passed by children as we walked in the village.

During our time in Muchucuxcah we learned a lot about heroism. We spoke to many families who worried about the source of their next meal, but worried as much about building their children's future through education. We were awed by the level of sacrifice on behalf of their children. We saw the hard work that men and women do in order to provide for and care for their families. We met Angela and Sigismondo Lucidi, founders of El Hombre Sobre La Tierra (HST), which assists the population in living off the land through responsible, organic farming, handcrafts, etc. We met Magdalena, who told us that a few years ago her children often got sick due to lack of nutrition. We toured her farm, where Magdalena's fortitude, combined with the assistance of HST has allowed Magdalena to provide for her family.

We also learned about the important work that AJWS does in this world. AJWS makes more than 350 grants in more than 30 countries throughout the global south to groups like HST, supporting local projects run by conscientious people who understand the local population, its needs, and its abilities, far better than any well-meaning outsider could. Beyond grantmaking, AJWS is also a recognized leader in disaster relief, and a major activist in political advocacy for social justice issues, including working to stop genocide in Darfur.

As we left Muchucuxcah, we traveled to Cancun. We learned how people often migrate to Cancun out of desperation when they simply cannot support themselves and their families in rural areas. Often men come to seek work, in the hopes of sending money back home. Often, their expenses in Cancun exceed their income and their despair and hopelessness becomes even more palpable. While in Cancun, we visited with people in a colonia, a collection of shanties, where we witnessed a level of poverty that most of us had not witnessed before, where people live without running water and in many cases without electricity. One woman, living in a one-room shack with her husband and two children described her son waking up at night to ask for yogurt (his favorite food) which his mother did not have. Another woman described how she did not have enough money when the water delivery last came by, so she hadn't had water for three days. And yet, even here there were sparks of heroism, often in the form of families spending a large portion of their income (usually around 1,200 pesos/$100 per week) on registration fees, uniforms, and other expenses to provide for their children's education. It was abundantly clear that these were people who were in a desperate situation not because of lack of ambition or intelligence, but because of lack of opportunity. With this in mind, we watched in awe as the few residents of Muchucuxcah who had joined us on this leg of our journey spoke to our hosts in the colonia about some of the skills that they had learned from HST and how those skills might help our hosts to improve their own lives.

It was with bitter irony that we returned to the Cancun airport and saw signs saying "welcome to paradise." Whose paradise was this and at what cost?

Being a Part of the Solution

During our trip, we asked ourselves many questions. What does it mean to be poor? What living conditions should be considered the right of every human being? Where do our responsibilities lie? How do we balance our responsibilities to our family and friends with our responsibilities to perhaps nameless and faceless people who face challenges far beyond what we and our loved ones face? What would our lives be, but for the accident of our birthplace? How do we balance our concern for the Jewish people with our sacred responsibility to care about the needs of every creature on earth? How can we best use the resources with which we have been blessed to uplift others while affirming their individuality and their dignity?

Perhaps the answers to these questions are beyond our reach. But we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of being overwhelmed by these questions. As Rabbi Tarfon teaches in Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) (2:16) “The work is not upon you to finish, but neither are you free to abstain from it.”

AJWS is an important part of beginning to answer these questions. As individuals, we cannot aspire to solve these problems. As a Jewish people, we can affirm our dedication to confronting these challenges. With that, I ask you to join me in supporting AJWS. Please help me toward my personal goal of raising $2,000 (click on "make a donation" above), and add AJWS to the list of charities that you regularly support.

To learn more about AJWS, please visit http://www.ajws.org, sign up for their e-mail list, and consider joining them for a study or service tour. Also, be sure to browse the “get involved” section of their website to learn other ways that you can support social justice in this world.

Thank you supporting this tremendously important organization,
Rabbi Noah Gradofsky

Donating by Check

Please note: If you care to make your donation by check, please note my name and the AJWS Young Rabbis' Delegation and mail your check to:

American Jewish World Service
Attn: Adina Mermelstein
45 West 36th Street, 11th floor
New York, NY 10018-7904

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