This week's portion: the treasure of teshuvah

Another socially-conscious Zuckerman

Cool news about a member of my extended in-law clan: Adam Zuckerman, Ethan's cousin, was nominated as one of Beliefnet's most inspiring people of 2006 for his work on behalf of the people of Darfur. (Clearly a global consciousness and a passion for social justice run in this family.) As the Beliefnet story explains:

When Adam Zuckerman heard a firsthand account of the atrocities of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, he knew he had to do something to help stop it.

Never mind that he was only a high school student, and that Darfur was a world away from his home in Portland, Maine. Never mind that he is Jewish and Darfuris are Muslim--two groups with a long history of conflict. When he made contact with Darfuri refugees in Maine, they were so moved by his compassion and commitment to their cause that they made him an honorary member of their cultural group. Last spring Zuckerman hosted his Darfuri friends at his family’s Passover seder, which included a Haggadah with a supplement on Darfur.

The article goes on to explain that at eighteen, Adam is considered one of the most outspoken advocates for the Darfuris in the United States. (Wow.) Click on the audio/video link at the Beliefnet story, and you can hear Adam talking about how social justice work is central to his understanding of Judaism. The work he does on behalf of the Darfuri community is how he lives out the post-Shoah cry, "Never again." Of the three pillars on which Jewish tradition understands the world to stand (Torah, prayer/service to God, and acts of lovingkindness), he considers the third paramount, and says it's at the heart of his Jewishness.

(For more background, you might read Beliefnet's earlier story, Darfur, Sudan, genocide, Jews and Muslims working for peace, which tells the story of how Adam became aware of the genocide in Sudan and became determined to take whatever action he could to help stop it.)

I'm a little bit late in making this blog post. I meant to post during the several rounds of voting on Beliefnet, but I missed that window. In the end, the readers of that site declared the Amish of Nickel Mines, PA to be the most inspiring people of the year. I don't think this is the kind of contest one exactly "wins" or "loses," though. Simply being nominated is a tremenous honor, and I suspect all of the nominees would agree that everyone on that list is doing something powerful, spiritual, and worthwhile.

So kudos on being honored with the nomination, Adam. And more importantly, kudos to you for putting your time and your heart into this important work. I'm inspired by the way you've responded to this call, and I'm delighted that we are family.

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