It is with great excitement that I tell you that the referendum vote count has finished in Southern Sudan. The chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, which organized the vote and includes members from both supporters and opponents of independence, said 98.83% have voted for separation. Yesterday, Rabbi Saperstein said this in a press release. "Today, Southern Sudan has finished counting the votes in the referendum for their independence. It is with cautious optimism that we look towards the future for a peaceful Sudan; a Sudan with out destruction, rape, and death. The people of Sudan have endured some of the world's most horrendous violence, including a two decade long horrendous brutal civil war in the South and the ethnic cleansing in Darfur and it is time for us to work together to bring stability to this region of Africa." It is truly amazing to be able to see a country, after so much war and destruction, have this moment of peace and in my opinion, it shows how diplomacy and negotiations can make a difference. Rabbi Saperstein continued, "We thank the Bush Administration for helping to set this process in place and the Obama Administration for its commitment to this process and for providing the administrative and diplomatic resources that were needed. We look forward to the administrations continued commitment to ensuring a peaceful transition and resolution of the outstanding issues in the coming months and years. The U.S. has been a major player in this situation and we can see the positive outcome that it has brought, it is now up to the administration to take this moment and make sure that through diplomacy, development, and humanitarian aid, we can make sure that this is a lasting positive outcome. Rabbi Saperstein concluded, "As we look with gradual optimism at these developments in the south, we must not forget about the ethnic cleansing in Darfur that continues, an estimated 2.7 million Darfuri civilians are still living in IDP camps and an additional 300,000 were displaced in 2010 alone. There are also ongoing reports of blocked humanitarian aid and ongoing human rights abuses. We call for a continuation of the peace talks and a greater international pressure to end the atrocities that continue." Our eyes remain focused on the horrendous situation in Darfur. Call 1-800 Genocide or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for ways to get involved.
Whether you're planning to welcome a child into your family, are preparing to choose your own Hebrew name, or just enjoy learning about the meanings and stories that names hold, I hope you'll be inspired by one of these nine names inspired by Purim, Passover, and the renewal of spring.
With the nominees announced for the 96th Academy Awards, "Oppenheimer," "Zone of Interest," and "Maestro" bring Jewish figures and history into this year's celebration. To whet your appetite, try watching some (or all) of these eight Oscar winners from past years with strong Jewish roots.