Letter from Eric Shockman

Dear Rabbi:As you know, Thursday evening we usher in the holiday of Shavuot. And, as you know, in addition to marking the anniversary of the giving of our Torah, Shavuot also marks the time when farmers used to bring the first fruits of their crop to the Temple as bikurim (offerings).MAZON has long been proud of a religious and cultural heritage that emphasizes the continued importance of symbolic bikurim. Though the Temple no longer stands, today we act as a community to perform this mitzvah by providing offerings to those who are in need.Whereas once we honored God by delivering fruit baskets to the Temple, today we show our gratitude and respect by sharing our abundance with parents and children most desperately in need.At no time has this mitzvah been more urgent than today. Facing the unimaginable horror of genocide, millions of Sudanese villagers have fled their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As they seek safer ground across the border in Chad, the Darfurian refugees must also struggle to find the most basic of necessities: food.That is why we need your help. MAZON is working to make a critical difference in the region, work made more urgent by the United Nations' recent announcement that its World Food Program is being forced to halve its emergency rations in eastern and western Sudan. This comes during what is already known as the “hunger season,” the annual pre-harvest period from July to September, when needs are greatest.To help combat this catastrophic shortage, MAZON is asking you to urge your congregants to provide aid to struggling families throughout the region through our Food for Darfur & Chad fund. Donations can be made directly at our website: www.mazon.org; simply indicate on the web donation form that your gift be used for Darfur relief.As always, you have our humblest thanks for your continued partnership, and our deepest respect for your commitment to making this Shavuot holiday one of study, reflection and meaningful bikurim.B'Shalom,H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D.PresidentMAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger1990 S. Bundy Dr., Ste. 260Los Angeles, CA 90025(310) 442-0020