Sisterhood Blog

Messinger Fasting for Darfur

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share

Most of us are accustomed to fasting only on Yom Kippur. But Ruth Messinger president of the American Jewish World Service, is taking on a two-day fast on June 15th and 16th, in order to bring more attention to the plight of the millions of victims of the deadly violence in Darfur.

She is joining an effort, called the Darfur Fast for Life, which was started by actress Mia Farrow. In April Farrow began a 12-day water-only fast “as a personal expression of outrage at a world that is somehow able to stand by and watch innocent men, women and children needlessly die of starvation, thirst and disease,” she said at the time.

Messinger is joining a growing list of celebrities, politicians, activists and other influentials, along with ordinary people, who are fasting to increase awareness of the deepening crisis.

In fact, she has been fasting on Mondays since Farrow’s physician told her she had to stop fasting, said Messinger in an interview with The Sisterhood.

The American Jewish World Service raises money from Jews which funds international aid in some of the most desperate places on earth, including Darfur, where a genocide against some indigenous ethnic groups has left millions homeless and hundreds of thousands dead in the six years since it began.

Messinger appears to be the first leader of a Jewish organization to join the effort, though Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center will join her starting Monday night, and the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation has also publicized it, she said.

At the end of the You Tube video she recorded about her upcoming fast, Messinger says, “Fast with me and let our hunger instruct us to listen. Fast with me and let our hunger instruct us to act.”

Fasting has two purposes, she said. One is to raise awareness.

“It’s hard for people, any people, to sustain concern about an issue that’s into its 7th year. As soon as you remind people, there’s a quick response. People have already written back saying ‘yes, I’m going to join with you.’ “

The other is so that she can remind herself what it is like for the more than one million people of Darfur for whom getting clean water and food is now difficult, people on whose behalf she often speaks.

“It’s a way of reminding myself that this is what it feels like all the time to the people I’ve been fighting for.”

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.