(JNi.media) On the first ever visit to India by a Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis expressed his support for the eradication of hunger and illiteracy. The Chief Rabbi visited Jewish aid and development organizations in Mumbai and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).
“As Jews, we have a responsibility to ensure that, where possible, our charity extends beyond our own community to people who we may never meet but who are so deserving of our help,” Chief Rabbi Mirvis said, adding, “I call upon all Jews to recognize that responsibility, and will be using my experiences here to raise awareness about what more can be done in this sphere.”
During his visit to India, Chief Rabbi Mirvis visited Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) and Sundara, two Jewish organizations that work with underprivileged populations. GPM cares for vulnerable children living in slums and poor rural areas of India by attending to the Children’s education, health and nutrition; and Sundara’s mission is to reduce preventable, hygiene-related deaths by creating sustainable soap recycling programs for under-served populations around the world.
Both organizations are part of OLAM, a new initiative of the Alliance for Global Good, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Pears Foundation, designed to help advance the global Jewish service movement— a coalition of 40 organizations dedicated to promote, enhance and showcase the impact of Jewish organizations and individuals in the field of global volunteering, aid and development.
OLAM Executive Director Dyonna Ginsburg spoke about the importance of the Chief Rabbi’s visit and the impact of Jewish service, aid and development organizations in India and around the world, saying, “We are delighted that someone of the stature of Chief Rabbi Mirvis has placed the issue of social responsibility on the highest agenda, especially in the Jewish world. Our coalition partners do amazing work, often without much recognition in the broader Jewish community. The Chief Rabbi’s visit has been deeply affirming, demonstrating that their work is valued as a Jewish act.”
“At OLAM we firmly believe that Jewish tradition and historical experience has taught us to take responsibility, help make the world a better place and look after the stranger,” Ginsburg noted. “Today, as the world faces extraordinary and complex challenges, it is more important than ever to strengthen Jewish efforts to repair the world and to make the imperatives of Tzedek (Justice) and Tikkun Olam (Improving the world) central to Jewish identity and purpose.”
The Chief Rabbi also visited a project run by the Economic Rural Development Society, which is financially supported by Tzedek, another OLAM coalition partner.