Being forced to flee from his home, Jacob had little food and personal security.
This same desperation pervades the lives of millions of people around the globe today, where conflict, displacement and food insecurity are constant realities of life. In Democratic Republic of Congo over 800,000 people have been displaced by violence in the past year alone. As they remain in Congolese territory they are considered IDPs--Internally Displaced Persons, a limbo classification that does not carry the same protections as formal refugee status. Separated from their farmland and livelihoods, IDPs must seek alternative sources of food, often relying on already under-resourced local families or foreign aid.
Development organizations in the region, including a number of AJWS grantees, themselves face a severe shortage in supplies and support as well as threats to their personal safety. Several IDP camps have experienced violent raids by militia, while food supplies have been stretched to the breaking point. Planted crops have been plundered and food aid deliveries are vulnerable to looting and disruption.
In situations like these, emergency relief groups save lives by addressing the short-term needs of IDPs. As we saw in Jacob’s response to God’s promises, when one’s immediate safety and security is threatened, it is natural and understandable to focus on the present. It is important, however, not to lose sight of the larger, longer-term vision and hope for the future. Grassroots organizations worldwide work to address issues that rapid relief cannot reach, such as restarting children’s education, helping people rebuild livelihoods and addressing profound psychological trauma. AJWS furthers this critical work in places like DRC by providing sustained, long-term support to organizations in the epicenter of conflicts, enabling communities to repair, over time, the deep rifts in society made by violence and war.
Jacob, in his moment of fear and insecurity, could only think of his own immediate survival, completely omitting any reference to descendents in his vow. But later in Bereshit, Jacob finds relative stability and establishes a family and a nation, fulfilling the divine promise that “all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.” When we support contemporary organizations focusing on long-term goals and sustainability, we enable this blessing to replace appeals for bread and shelter, and help to build a world where future generations can dwell in security and prosperity.
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.