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[From The Hebrew Watchman, Memphis, TN, Feb 10, 2005, p. 13.]
World travelers Edward and Eunice Ordman left this week on a trip with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and will return to the city on February 27.
AJWS is an independent not-for-profit
organization founded in 1985 to help alleviate poverty, hunger and
disease among the people of the world regardless of race, religion or
nationality. It breathes life into Judaism's imperative to pursue
justice and helps American Jews act upon a deeply felt obligation to
improve the chances for survival, economic independence and human
dignity for all people.
During their 18-day trip the couple will
visit several AJWS projects, including Banteay Srei—a Cambodian
organization producing radio dramas to encourage women's health and
violence against women; Angkor Participatory Development Organization,
which attempts to find economic opportunities for local residents that
will not destroy the environment or historic sites around Angkor Wat;
Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group; Earth Rights International, a group
concerned with environmental and human rights of tribal people along
the border between Burma and Thailand, especially ethnic minorities who
have fled from Burma into Northern Thailand.
Mr. and Mrs. Ordman are members of Temple
Israel and are both retired from teaching Computer Science at the
University of Memphis. Mr. Ordman started in math; she started in
physics. She was one of the few women teaching college level physics in
the United States in 1946.
Even while teaching at U of M the
couple did a great deal of traveling. Since Mr. Ordman retired in 2001,
they have done more.
In the last few years Mr. Ordman has written close to three dozen essays for the Christian Science Monitor. According to Mr.Ordman, Rabbi Micah Greenstein, senior rabbi of Temple Israel, sometimes calls him "the Jewish essayist" for the Monitor, although not all of the essays are on Jewish subjects.
The inspiration for AJWS' work is
drawn from the demand for social justice expressed in traditional
Jewish sources. AJWS is a Jewish response to the needs of communities
throughout the globe, regardless of race, religion or nationality. The
Torah makes it clear that it is a Jewish
mandate to respond to the needs of the poor and.needy, Jews and
non-Jews, and even enemies who are in need. Doing tzedakah, righteous
deeds, is part of the Jewish obligation to participate in tikkun olam,
helping to repair the world.
AJWS supports almost 200 grassroots organizations in the developing world and Russia and Ukraine through grant making, technical assistance, emergency relief and advocacy. It also provides unique international service opportunities for the Jewish community, enabling Jews to play an active role in the process of meaningful social change. Last year AJWS sent over 300 volunteers to the developing world.
Mr. and Mrs. Ordman are joining a group of
a dozen or so traveling to Cambodia and Northern Thailand. The AJWS
supports a number of projects in Cambodia and Thailand, particularly
projects devoted to providing education and economic opportunities for
women. A particular concern is with
refugees and displaced persons. These are particular problems in this
part of the world because Burma and Cambodia have at times had
particularly bad government, causing substantial numbers of people to
flee their homes, and because extensive warfare in Cambodia has
destroyed much of the prior economic structure.