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    B’nai Israel Congregation
    6301 Montrose Road
    Rockville, MD 20852-4195

    By Phone: 301-881-6550

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The Rohingya People

“One who takes a single life is considered as though he has destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a single person is considered to have saved an entire world”
(Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

Since at least the 1970s, successive military governments in Burma have persecuted the Rohingya – which they consider a stateless, outsider, people – with denial of education, economic opportunity, ghettoization and loss of citizenship. In 2016, the military used attacks on local police posts by uncoordinated insurgent groups of Rohingya as a pretext to wage what we would recognize as pogroms against Rohingya villages. Women were raped, children were killed, and more than 650,000 people – a majority of the population – has been forced to flee to Bangladesh. These refugees have been interned in displaced persons camps.

It is difficult to get excited about a people’s suffering more than 8,000 miles away from home, but our people’s historical experience serves as a warning of what can happen when the world stands silent. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum considers the Rohingya to be the minority most at risk of genocide. In the spirit of our national rallying cry, “Never Again,”

The best thing we can do now on behalf of the Rohingya people is educate ourselves and  do what we can to help those who are actively helping. We will distribute a short list of recommended agencies in time for Senator Cardin’s visit. Click on the resources below to learn more.

  • Senator Ben Cardin will visit our congregation during services on Saturday, May 12. He will speak about the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act, a bill that he co-authored with Senator John McCain, which would prohibit certain military cooperation with the Burmese military, support economic and security sector reform, and encourage Burma’s successful transition of power to a civilian government. Click here to read a press release by the two senators.
  • Rabbi Safra spoke about the plight of the Rohingya during the Yizkor service on Passover. Click here to read the sermon.
  • The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has taken the lead in forming the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network. Click to learn more about the crisis and the work that AJWS is doing on  the ground in Bangladesh.
  • On Saturday, May 19, following services, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard, will speak about her visit to Myanmar in 2015, and the things we can do to help. Click here to read more about her historic trip.
  • The Rabbinical Assembly, the International association of Conservative rabbis, approved a Resolution on the Rohingya at its recent convention in Chicago. Click here to read the resolution. Thank you to our member David Schoenbaum for his help in seeing this resolution through the process.

Now is the time to speak out – “Never Again.”