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Lexington Rabbi Among U.S. Contingent To Guatemala

Lexington Temple Adath Israel

Lexington Rabbi David Wirtschafter says a recent trip to Guatemala exemplified the struggles faced by people in the Central American country.  The leader of Temple Adath Israel was part of an American Jewish World Service journey to Guatemala. 

Wirtschafter says midwives who faced threats of violence while helping women with childbirth were impressive. “The courage that it takes to leave your home in the middle of the night in the face of gang violence and the legitimate fear of literally being shot and in the crossfire to help your fellow human being give birth.  It’s really, despite the severity of the conditions, quite inspiring,” said Wirtschafter. 

Wirtschafter says the American Jewish World Service works on a variety of issues including women’s rights, education, land use, and environmental concerns. 

He says the weeklong visit gave him a firsthand view of the issues prompting Central Americans to flee to the U.S.  Those include gang violence, government corruption, and poverty.  

Wirtschafter believes more public, private, and voluntary resources could help address the social problems that have created a surge in immigration.  “Our country and our private organizations, church groups, synagogue groups, human rights entities could be investing in civil society in Guatemala and throughout Central America so that people have a nation that they don’t have to run away from,”

During their stay in both urban and rural areas of Guatemala, Wirtschafter says they were told about 80 perceny of the country’s population lives in poverty. 

Here's an extended interview by WEKU's Stu Johnson with Rabbi David Wirtschafter of Lexington's Temple Adath Israel.


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