By Dana Fleitman, Program Coordinator
Stephanie Weinfeld, 18, represents Jewish World Watch on her campus of California State University, Fullerton. She is currently building a team for the Walk to End Genocide in Orange County and works with her campus Hillel to spread the word on modern genocide. “A lot of people don’t know that it’s happening… it’s an eye opener for people to know what’s going on in the rest of the world and realize that this is still happening right now,” reflects Stephanie.
Stephanie became involved in JWW’s Solar Cooker Project for her Bat Mitzvah project and has been committed to anti-genocide activism ever since. She feels a specific Jewish obligation to be involved in anti-genocide advocacy, explaining “we’ve gone through the Holocaust, and every Jew knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who was affected by the Holocaust…it touches people very closely. We always say ‘never again,’ but there are these genocides still happening. As Jews, it is our duty to help make that stop.”
Of course, the issue of genocide is not just relevant to Jewish people. “You don’t need be Jewish to know that genocide is wrong and that killing innocent people is not okay…it’s hard to get some people to get their minds past the idea of, ‘I’m not Jewish, so this isn’t my thing’…but when I really explain it to people, they often want to be involved.”
She notes that there are many ways to get involved in addressing genocide. “I want people to do whatever they can to help…you can donate, you can be an activist and spread the word about it, you can go on trips to Africa to help the women and children there…I don’t think that hands-on helping is for everyone, but everyone can do something to help.”
Genocidal violence impacts women and girls worldwide. Genocide is defined as the intent to destroy a certain group, and systematic rape has become a deliberate weapon strategically used in places like Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) helps the United States lead a global response to gender-based violence. Learn more and urge your representatives to support IVAWA today.