Hundreds participated in the 3rd annual Conejo Valley Walk to End Genocide on Sunday, April 12, in Thousand Oaks. Hosted by Jewish World Watch, the event brought together representatives from many local communities to draw attention to the plight of people facing genocide throughout the world.
The larger regional Los Angeles walk takes place at Pan Pacific Park on April 19th. According to the JWW website:
We are committed to engaging and inspiring our communities to support tangible projects and advocate for political change. Together, we have raised more than $12.5 million dollars for relief and development projects that impact tens of thousands of people in Sudan and Congo.
“We decided to create the Conejo Valley event, because the L.A. one was too far for many local people to get to,” said Rebecca Haimowitz-King, co-chair of the walk. The fundraiser is a coordinated effort between Temple Etz Chaim, where Haimowitz-King works as a rabbi’s assistant, and United Methodist Church.
The walk raises awareness and funds to provide vital resources for those suffering from the horrors of genocide. The money raised on Sunday, including registration fees, will go to victims of persecution living in the Sudan and Congo. Last year’s walk raised $20,000.
“Our efforts support five camps,” Haimowitz-King said. “… One of my favorite programs is the solar cooker project.” She explains that women and girls are particularly vulnerable while leaving their camps to collect firewood for cooking. “By providing an alternative cooking option [a solar cooker which uses the sun], incidents of rape has decreased by 80 percent,” she said.
Conejo Valley resident Nomie Azoff has been involved with the local walk since its inception in 2012. So far her team, “Judaic Studies by Nomie,” has raised about $600, she said. Azoff is “deeply passionate” about the work of the JWW and walked in the LA event for four years. “You know the consequences of those who failed to stop the Holocaust and the 46 genocides that have followed,” she wrote in a Facebook plea for donations. “It takes so little to make a difference.”
This year’s fundraiser coincides with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. A special pre-walk Yom HaShoah concert took place in the Etz Chaim sanctuary. Lorry Black & Friends performed music from the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and the Rwandan Genocide. An outdoor global village included craft and activist projects, advocacy booths, food, art, music and a drum circle.
The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Etz Chaim, 1080 E. Janss Road. Registration will take place up until the day of the walk; however, to receive a t-shirt, you must click here to register early.