Parashat Metzora

Water for Life

This portion calls on us to make clean water a focal point of our action and advocacy.

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The International Year of Sanitation

2008 is the International Year of Sanitation, part of the International Decade for Action on Water declared by the United Nations in 2005. While significant progress is being made on providing safe drinking water, the drive to increase sanitation is well below its targets. 

The major barrier, says U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is a lack of political will. Our elected leaders have not made water a priority and neither have we. Here again, the Torah teaches us. 

The Israelites who fell ill, who became impure with skin afflictions and discharge, were not neglected by the community. Rather, they were cared for by the most revered members of the community, the priests. The religious and political leaders themselves stepped out of the mishkan and walked among the people to engage personally with lepers. 

Imagine the implications for our global community if political and religious leaders paid regular visits to those suffering from preventable diseases, to those denied access to sanitation, to those without living water. Providing a spotlight for the current reality would build political will. It is when leaders step out of their houses of leadership and walk among the community that real needs begin to be addressed. 

The name of the U.N. movement for water and sanitation is called "Water for Life." This week's parashah calls on us to raise our voices to make clean water a focal point of our action and advocacy.

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Carol Towarnicky

Carol Towarnicky is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.