Help Rescue Two Jews — Alan Gross and Gilad Shalit

GTJ does not normally feature non-community members as Jews of the Week, but we wanted to bring to your attention two opportunities to help Jews in need.

1) Alan Gross – Click here to sign a petition to help Alan

Alan Gross, a resident of Potomac Maryland, was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 while working with the small Jewish community there to improve their internet access and to create an intranet for them.  He has been incarcerated ever since. He languished in prison for over a year until he was finally charged by the Cuban government.  He was convicted by a Cuban court of “actions against the integrity of the State,” and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He subsequently appealed his sentence to the Cuban Supreme Court and the court reaffirmed the sentence, exhausting all of Alan’s legal remedies. His only avenue left is commutation of his sentence by Raul Castro, President of Cuba.

Alan and his supporters have fervently rejected all accusations that he did anything, or intended to do anything, to harm the Cuban government.  Quite to the contrary, his work in Cuba was only to help to improve the Cuban Jewish community’s ability to use the internet. The President of the United States, senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, national leaders, and newspaper editorials have all called for his immediate release.

We are urging Alan’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds.  Since his incarceration, Alan’s eldest daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a double mastectomy, his 89-year old mother is suffering from inoperable cancer, and his wife Judy has undergone surgery for an undisclosed medical issue. Alan has lost approximately 100 pounds since his arrest and is suffering from several ailments.

(From the JCRC)

2) Gilad Shalit – Click here to sign a petition to help Gilad

Thousands of people, including many members of the DC-area Jewish community, are taking part in an all-day Facebook event to mark Gilad Shalit’s birthday today.

Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was abducted in 2006 by Hamas during a cross-border raid by the group into Israel. August 28th marks Shalit’s 25th birthday, as well as his 1890th day in Palestinian captivity. During this entire time, he has not been given access to a visit from the International Committee of the Red Cross  which, as several human rights groups have noted, violates International Humanitarian Law.

The Facebook event aims to raise awareness of Shalit’s situation and conditions. Participants are encouraged to “give two minutes to Gilad” and to sign a petition to the ICRC.

To join the Facebook event, click here.

(From GTJ)