JANICE KAMENIR-REZNIK of Jewish World Watch at WVRC on February 24th
PP RON LYSTER provided the Invocation, which turned out to be a major history lesson about the first days of Rotary. Feb 23rd, 1905 was a Thursday. Attorney Paul Harris met for dinner with Coal Dealer Silvester Schiele. They went across the street to Mining Engineer Gus Loehr’s office, and at the first meeting, the fourth founder was their tailor, Hiram Shorey, The fifth founding member was Harry Ruggles, a printer these five started the world’s first service club. At an evening meeting in 1906, the guest speaker began a story and Ruggles, who had heard it before, was aware that it had an off-color ending. Since Ruggles hated classless humor, he jumped to his feet, and yelled, “Come on boys, let’s sing!” He then led them in singing “Let me call you sweetheart,” which was the first time ANY group had sung at dinner. It became a happy tradition, and has endured. RON, thanks for the history. BRIAN WHITNEY led the Pledge, followed by The Four Way Test. RICK BROUS provided song sheets, “I love to go to Rotary” Was well done, and we were fully underway.
We had a number of guests. JACK PAUL was pleased to present his granddaughter, Rebecca Sadwick, who is a freshman at UCLA. Diane Davidson was with us again she is currently with LA 5, but will be transferring to WVRC, which is certainly good news. Our frequent visitor, Renato Romano from BH was with us, and he brought Ryan Cinelli along, who is a possible new member. Michelle Jacobson was also a Special Guest, as was George Castinellon. PEGGY was accompanied by her helper, and SUNNY was with LENNY. A late guest was Robert Cunningham, who is interested in joining Rotaract.
Evangeline Nathan, WLA Police Chief, asked to say hello. She wanted to thank us for our support for PACT it did make a difference. LEO TSENG was found guilty of not having his Rotary pin, thus nicked for five bucks. Also Brian Whitney was fined five bucks for providing the wrong name of the culprit. JOHN HEIDT, in absentia, noted that the next event supporting OPCC will be a dinner on April 21st, at which we can again serve dinner to their needy members at Daybreak Shelter. Save the date, please. March 9th will be the next meeting of our Auxiliary, at the home of LYNN and MARK ROGO, starting at 11:30. The Speaker will be Ginger Barnard, L.A. County Deputy Director of Protocol, who has been filling this assignment for the last twenty years. She will have some fascinating stories to relate, and MARGIE DOWNIE can take your reservation.
I had a call this morning from Cheryl Kingston, whom some of you may remember as having helped WVRC with some PR a few years ago. Cheryl has a separate room for a student, and it will be available starting March 1st. You can reach her at (310) 476-4977, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
President GORDON reported that he and VACHAREE enjoyed the recent Humanitarian Trip to the Dominican Republic. They were in Santiago, the Capital, Santo Domingo, and La Vega, where the Rotary Club of La Vega Real is located. There were over 95 Rotarians and spouses on the trip, and between them, they visited a total of 15 Rotary projects going on at this time. These projects were worth $300,000. GORDON saw three of the Projects, and he felt they were doing a good job, under sometimes difficult conditions. Next year the trip will be to Puerto Rico.
MARCIA BROUS was pleased to introduce our speaker, Janice Kamenir-Reznik, who is the President of Jewish World Watch. This group was founded seven years ago by Ms Reznik and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, who were concerned about the lack of world attention and concern for the genocide in Darfur, and more generally, for genocides and mass atrocities which occur in the world.
Rabbi Schulweis, the JWW co-founder, is Rabbi emeritus of Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino. Among Resnick's many professional accomplishments are serving as President of the California Women Lawyers, and the Women’s Law Center advocating for the rights of women and girls; spearheading the establishment of the award-winning Self-Help Legal Access Centers in LA courthouses to assist mostly poor unrepresented litigants in accessing the judicial system.
Reznik retired from her career as an attorney to start this faith-based organization; it began with synagogues, but has now expanded to include churches and all types of community organizations. The focus of the group is to alert the world to and to try to stop genocide and mass atrocities and to help bring relief to the victims. Jewish World Watch uses a three-pronged strategy to meet its mission: (1) Education; (2) Political Activatation; and (3) Provide Relief to the victims of these horrible situations. Jewish World Watch focuses on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan which has claimed the lives of more than 400,00 Black African Muslims and on the massive rapes committed against the women of Eastern Congo.
There have been more than 40 genocides in the last century. The first genocide of the 20th century was the massacre of ethnic Armenians in Turkey, which to this day is denied officially. Jewish World Watch partners with the Armenian community in attempting to gain official recognition of the Armenian genocide. Following the holocaust there were at least 37 genocides before the start of the genocide in Darfur began in 2004. This genocide was orchestrated by the despotic Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir and his hired thugs, the Janjaweed militia. The target of the genocide were the 2 million Black African Muslims in South Darfur; at least one quarter of that population was murdered and the balance have been rendered homeless and completely dependent upon foreign aid. The recent vote by the southern Sudanese to separate from Sudan will undoubtedly have an impact on the genocide in Darfur; if that separation brings about renewed warfare between the North (Arab Muslim) and the South (Christian), the Darfuris will probably fall prey to yet more violence and victimization. But Jewish World Watch wants to be sure that this unfolding tragedy is known and reported to the rest of the world.
The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is ongoing. The country itself is a treasure chest of minerals, which in turn invites the nine countries surrounding Congo to invade Congo to exploit that wealth; they do so by raping the women, which destroys village life, thereby leaving a vacuum enabling a take over of the village and the nearby mines. Congo has 60 million residents, and covers an area almost the size of Europe. There are few roads, with river transport being primary. And they have 80% of the tin, tantalum and tungsten reserves in the entire world, which minerals are in extremely high demand for our many electronic devices. Figures indicate there have been six million Congolese killed since 1998 and an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 cases of rape. Last year Human Rights Watch called Congo the most dangerous place on earth to be a woman.
Jewish World Watch has raised millions of dollars to care for victims in both Darfur and in Congo. They supply water, medical care, schools and other life saving services to the victims through more than 25 projects they have developed. The flagship Jewish World Watch project serving Darfuri refugees is the Solar Cooker Project. This project, which now serves more than 100,000 Darfuri refugees is a rape prevention project developed when JWW heard that the refugee women were frequently raped when they left the relative safety of the refugee camps in search of firewood. JWW established Solar Cooking in the camps which has reduced by almost 90% the number of trips that the women have to take outside of the camps. For the Congolese rape victims, Jewish World Watch works with churches in Congo to provide a panoply of rape and economic recovery services and projects for the women and children survivors of the conflict. JWW welcomes donations for their projects in small or large amounts! They have raised over five million dollars for this and more donations are always most welcome. JWW is a 501©(3) and all donations are fully deductible. JWW representatives travel to Congo and to the Darfuri refugee camps to evaluate their projects. You can reach Ms Reznik at (818) 501-1836, or Janice@JewishWorldWatch.org, and their website is www.JewishWorldWatch.org. Ms. Reznik and others from JWW are available to speak to any and all groups about the work that they do.
Janice Reznik, we thank you for your presentation to WVRC.