I’ll be the first to shamefully admit that when I first signed up to bake bread for Challah for Hunger, my motives were not exactly Gandhi-esque. I thought: it’s convenient, right near campus, I get to learn how to make food and eat it in the end. Sweet. I did not know what foundation the proceeds of the challah were going, all I knew was that challah was delicious.
I did indeed learn how to roll and fill the challah dough (a useful skill) and purchased a loaf for myself, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, a period of illumination occurred some time in between the dough-rolling and the challah-eating, when the bread was rising in the oven, when UCLA Alumna and Jewish World Watch Co-Founder and President Janice Kamenir-Reznik gave an enlightening presentation on where exactly the funds from Challah for Hunger were headed.
The Jewish World Watch is dedicated to putting an end to mass atrocities, such as that which irreparably devastated European Jewry (amongst many other minority groups as well) in the late 1930s and 1940s. The JWW’s mission is clearly evidenced by its motto: “Fight genocide. Do not stand idly by.” In a presentation accompanied by PowerPoint slides, Mrs. Kamenir-Reznik, armed with her impressive statistics, explained how the proceeds of Challah for Hunger were going to provide solar cookers for women in refugee camps in Africa, eliminating their need to leave the camps to collect firewood, and thereby dramatically lowering rates of assault and rape on these women. The statistics themselves elicited an audible gasp from the audience, as did Mrs. Kamenir-Reznik’s astonishing stories about the plight of the women in African refugee camps, the very same women we were helping protect from harm indirectly through our baking.
At one point during her presentation, I was so personally affected by what Mrs. Kamenir-Reznick was saying about the kinds of decisions women in refugee camps had to make, such as the choice between letting herself and her children go hungry or getting raped, that I exited the room for a bit. As a young woman who one day hopes to have children, I simply could not fathom confronting that dilemma on a daily basis. I left Hillel that day with more than just a tasty piece of bread; I left armed with knowledge and a new cause.
First Year Belle