After scouring the entire JCC gymnasium, little Nuri, daughter of Nat Rahav and Zahra Sherzad, excitedly discovered the hidden “Halfikomen.” Rather than the usual $20 or so she might have won at another Seder, Nuri received almost $1000 collected in a matzah box passed around the room. But it wasn’t for her to keep! Instead she got to donate this matzah box filled with money to a justice focused organization of her choice. With a long list brainstormed by the community, Nuri chose Pathfinders Justice Initiative.
Naomi recently sat down with Ruth Evon Idahosa – founder of Pathfinders – to hear about the incredible work she does. Read their conversation below, and learn more at http://pathfindersji.org/
Evon, I have been so inspired by your work with Pathfinders Justice Initiative. Our community spoke about you at Lab/Shul Sayder Passover ritual meal at the JCC this year. Can you tell Lab/Shul what this work your doing is all about?
Sure! Essentially, our mission is to help to repair some of the tears in our world. Specifically, we identify and expose pockets of injustice against women and girls in the developing world (particularly in West Africa) and work to liberate women and girls trapped in modern day slavery (sex trafficking). We also seek justice and provide rehabilitation for these survivors as well as female survivors of rape and child sex abuse. Because we believe in community transformation, we also strive to empower silenced voices via our #TakeMeOffMute(anti-child sex abuse), #SheSaidNo(anti-rape) and #Not4Sale (anti-sex trafficking) campaigns, raise awareness and sensitize the public on the implications of these atrocities. We are prevention focused and invest in the complete physical, emotional, psychological and economic restoration of female survivors of violence who will serve as agents of change and pathfinders in their respective communities. As part of our advocacy work, we serve as organizers for #BringBackOurGirls, the global movement demanding the rescue and rehabilitation of almost 300 girls who were kidnapped by the world’s deadliest terrorist group, Boko Haram, on April 14, 2014.
This year we had an opportunity to turn a Jewish custom on its head – we hid the middle broken matzah – a symbol of brokenness in the world – and children typically find the “afikomen” and get a “ransom” or money or a prize for find it. This year we did a Halfikomen ritual where we hid the middle matzah, but instead of the kid receiving a prize for finding it, they got to choose a justice-focused organization based on many organizations we as a community brainstormed together. A young Lab/Shul-ite girl named Nuri, daughter of Nat and Zahra Rahav – chose Pathfinders Justice Initiative to donate the nearly $1000 raised at the dinner. What was your reaction when you found out this information?
I was absolutely elated! I know there must have been other worthy organizations being considered and couldn’t wait to meet Nuri to ask why she chose our work. I also felt incredibly honored to be connected to Lab/Shul, a community that loves outside its geographic boundaries, ultimately loving without walls. This is what we have all been called to do, but so many limit what they actually do to the boundaries of their comfort zone. I was moved by the fact that Lab/Shul ultimately gave to improve the fate of survivors in West Africa who they will likely never ever meet. Thank you. My prayer is that our collective efforts serve to inspire humanity and bring about real, tangible change in this broken world.
So you came over the the Rahav’s house to tell them a bit more about your work and to accept the donation – do you want to tell us a little bit about that experience?
Before I walked in, I was hoping to be somewhat inspiring to the Rahavs. However, I was the one who actually left inspired, primarily by their 10 year old daughter, Nuri. Nuri explained that after conducting her own independent investigation (interviewing congregants on why they chose the causes they did, researching and reflecting), she decided that the funds should go to Pathfinders to support our Hearts of Hope Project (which supports survivors of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria). I was so inspired by her awareness of the disparity in the world between boys and girls and her commitment to turning the world right side up. She’s 10 and already a world changer! Nat and Zahra (her parents) are certainly to be thanked as well for not just opening up their home to host a complete stranger for the evening, but even more so for raising such a confident, social justice agitator.