“Women hold up half the sky.”

Yesterday I finished reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  The book details the challenges facing the world and suggests the empowerment of women as a principle means of creating lasting social change based upon grassroots organizing.  They write, “The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing.  It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.  More girls are killed in this routine ‘gendercide’ in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth-century.”

Through telling individual woman’s stories, there is a most compelling argument for what each individual can do to make the world better.  One of my favorite quotes is, “American feminism must become less parochial, so that it is every bit as concerned with sex slavery in Asia as with Title IX sports programs in Illinois.  It is already making good progress in this respect.  Likewise, Americans of faith should try as hard to save the lives of African women as the lives of unborn fetuses.  In short, all of us need to become more cosmopolitan and aware of global repression based on gender.”

I finished the book feeling inspired to do more to help women around the world.  I still have a few more days to make donations to worthy causes mentioned in the book, and I am inspired to do more research into micro-finance through Kiva.  Apparently, so many other people are doing the same thing that Kiva has no more people in need of a loan.

I was also thinking big.  Like organizing the community here to partner with one of the aid agencies in a specific place and create an exchange that would go beyond sending a check periodically.  Perhaps this could even include correspondence if the program was a literacy project and then maybe in a couples of years time, a visit by a group of people to work in the community directly.  One thing that made me quite proud was that American Jewish World Service is one of the organizations that the authors of the book highlight as doing particularly good work.  You can find the link for AJWS to the right.

So there I was thinking all these big thoughts about ways that the world can be improved and then I went to see Precious.

You’ll find my general review of the movie in yesterday’s posting, and I would like to add that I’m still thinking about the movie more than 24 hours later.  Precious tells the story of an inner city youth and the story of her life which includes horrors I don’t even want to write about here.  The film was a wake up call in one way.  I was thinking perhaps too much about the global world and not enough about what happens to the people in the city in which I live.  As much as it is important to think globally, never should acting locally be forgotten.  I have more research and thinking to do, but maybe micro-financing is just as important for entrepreneurs in our own cities as it is in villages in Africa, India, and many other places.

There is so much work to be done.  It is said in Pirkei Avot, Sayings of the Fathers, “it is is not up to us to finish to work, neither are we free to walk away from it.”  What are you going to do?


Do you know who said the quote that is the title for this post?  Find out the answer tomorrow.

About rabbisteinman

I am a rabbi living in North America. I was ordained from HUC-JIR. This is my blog.
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