Etgar 36

Day 25-New York City-Alexa Rakusin

Our day commenced bright and early as we embarked on the next leg of our journey: New York City. After nearly seven hours on the bus, our highly anticipated arrival was bittersweet for me, as it was my last bus experience on Etgar 36. After a brief stop at the hotel, we departed for the American Jewish World Service building. Though many of us have previously made the Jewish pilgrimage to New York, some of my fellow Etgarians experienced the glorious NYC subway system for the first time ever.

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Upon arriving at the American Jewish World Service building, we received a warm Jewish welcome and were introduced to Maital Rosenberg, Molly Andron, and Ruth Messinger of the organization. We soon became familiar with the AJWS mission statement: “inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, AJWC works to realize human rights and poverty in the developing world”. We were lucky to speak with Ruth Messinger, the president of AJWS and a prominent political figure in New York. Ruth’s involvement in the organization was prompted by childhood influences and her belief in the Jewish responsibility to aid others.

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Founded 29 years ago, AJWS is now engaged in 19 countries throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas, most prominently in India and Uganda. The organization works to correct issues regarding the rights of girls, women, and LBGTQ people, aid recovery from oppression and poverty, and provide access to food, land, and livelihood throughout the world. AJWS makes a difference by writing grants, lobbying for policy change, and teaming up with other groups and local organizations to effectively accomplish specific goals. Currently, AJWS is fighting to pass the International Violence Against Women Act and terminate forced child marriage in countries like India. Ruth concluded our meeting by encouraging us to incite change within our own communities through volunteer work, contacting our local representatives, and questioning societal and political policies. I was inspired by this meeting to actively find ways to pursue justice in the world as well as become involved with AJWS in my hometown.

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Following the meeting, we proceeded to Times Square, where we were given time to explore the heart of NYC. Many of us eagerly sought authentic New York hotdogs for dinner. We concluded the day grandly with a broadway performance of Pippin. Overall the musical was inspiring as it connected to the theme of our Etgar journey in finding our purpose in the world or our “corner of the sky”. After a very long day, we returned to the hotel and passed out.

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Shout-out to JKap, who left today: It was “noice” to meet you, and you will be missed dearly.