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JEWISH WORLD WATCH GIVEN $200,000 HUMAN-RIGHTS ORGANIZATION PROVIDES MEDICAL AID IN DARFUR.

Byline: BRAD A. GREENBERG Staff Writer

Jewish World Watch sprouted from the seeds of a Rosh Hashana sermon at Valley Beth Shalom three years ago.

As he preached, Rabbi Harold Schulweis told the Conservative Encino congregation that they had a moral responsibility to vigilantly protect humanity against future genocides. Jewish World Watch has since dedicated itself to providing medical aid in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

This year, the human-rights organization received $200,000 from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles -- the largest grant of $1.1 million given to local organizations with lofty goals.

``What is unique about Jewish World Watch is it is an expression of Jewish conscience,'' Marvin I. Schotland, the foundation's president and CEO, said Monday after announcing the recipients of the first Cutting Edge Grants.

``We are a people who have historically suffered throughout the ages in despotic environments. It is a way for Jews to remember that we were once slaves in Egypt and when we were liberated we have a responsibility.''

Others to receive the grants include Jewish Television Network for Web- based broadcasting of Jewish programs; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to support an artist in residence; and Jewish Home for the Aging for fall-prevention education.

HaMercaz, which provides social services to Jewish families with special-needs children, received $152,000 -- enough to fund operations for the next three years.

``Special needs is not something that has been traditionally addressed by the broader Jewish community,'' said Deborah Dragon, spokeswoman for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which runs HaMercaz. ``For a family that finds out their child has special needs, I think they immediately have that sense of, I don't know where to turn.''

The grants constitute a fraction of the $45 million to $60 million the foundation gives to Jewish causes each year. In selecting recipients, it looked for Jewish organizations with ``big ideas,'' Schotland said.

Since its founding, Jewish World Watch has raised about $1 million and established two medical clinics in Darfur that are run by the International Medical Corps. Involvement has since spread from Valley Beth Shalom to 50 other Jewish congregations of all denominations.

``It is quite rare that people lose their institutional narcissism and joined in this,'' Schulweis said.

The money from the Jewish Community Foundation, which Jewish World Watch received earlier this year, was used to hire an executive director and improve the organization's offerings.

``During the Holocaust in the late '30s and '40s, we had asked, Where was the church, where was the priest, where was the pope, where was the cathedral?'' Schulweis said.

``I was saying to them, `I didn't want that to happen to us.' Years after Darfur, I didn't want people to say, Where was the rabbi, where was the synagogue, where was the congregation?''

brad.greenberg(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 19, 2006
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