Fremont concert to benefit orphans from Rwandan war

Bosnia long ago usurped Rwanda as the media's world crisis of choice.

But despite the fact that civil war in Rwanda has ended, citizens of that African nation are still suffering from the war's physical and psychological aftereffects.

For that reason, Fremont's Temple Beth Torah is sponsoring a communitywide concert Sunday, Nov. 12 to benefit more than 100,000 war orphans. All money raised will go to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which sent medical teams and other aid to Rwandans during last year's conflict.

"The people who put [the concert] together felt that we couldn't forget the long-term traumas that went beyond the immediate need for food and shelter," said Jim Weiss, Contra Costa director for the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay.

"The tendency is to focus on what's happening in the headlines today," said Weiss, who will speak at the concert.

The concert will feature a range of entertainers including Mark Levy singing in Ladino, Achi Ben Shalom singing in Hebrew and Sofia Shpitalnik singing in Yiddish. Yefim Raysberg will belt out Russian folk songs.

A children's choir from Union City's Bernard White School will perform the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth." And the team of Israeli aid workers who visited Rwanda last summer will be honored with a rendition of the Israeli national anthem.

Weiss, meanwhile, will summarize Rwanda's current situation, focusing on orphans' needs and on the work of the Joint Distribution Committee, which is supported by federations nationwide.

"One of the great things about [the JDC] and the Jewish community in general is our willingness to deal with crisis," Weiss said.

Crisis, he added, often entails meeting "ongoing needs that may not be getting headlines but that require the same kind of profound support and understanding."

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.