Attempting to draw attention to the fragile situation in war-torn Sudan, Jewish, Christian and Muslim activists descended on Capitol Hill March 2, armed with prayers — and nursery rhymes.
The prayers were delivered during an interfaith breakfast in the Capitol and shared a common theme: They called on policymakers in Washington not to forget Sudan, and to ensure the continuation of a peace process that would end fighting in the troubled regions of Darfur and of Southern Sudan.
The nursery rhymes came shortly after, as religious leaders and volunteers with the Interfaith Sudan Working Group knocked on doors of all congressional offices and presented lawmakers with a copy of Humpty Dumpty, which, according to American Jewish World Service president Ruth Messinger, symbolizes the current situation in Sudan. The country, just like Humpty Dumpty, is “teetering on the edge,” Messinger said, and if the U.S. fails to push for peace now, all agreements might fall on the ground and “we know how hard it will be to put them together again.”
Activists fear that the upcoming months — with general elections in April, an upcoming referendum on the future of Southern Sudan and the recent ceasefire agreement in Darfur — could prove to be crucial for the country. The interfaith group called on Congress to take action to make sure the democratic process in Sudan is carried out in full, and that agreements to stop fighting are respected.
Jewish groups have been at the forefront of the fight for Sudan and were a main driving force behind the Save Darfur coalition. At the Capitol Hill event on Tuesday, the Jewish community was also represented by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who offered an opening prayer. There were also Evangelical Christian, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Armenian and Muslim leaders in attendance.
Pastor Gloria White-Hammond, co-founder of My Sister’s Keeper, an organization that supports the women of Sudan, told the crowd: “We are here today to declare we are sick and tired. We want peace and we want it now.”
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.