Ruth Messinger to deliver the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture at Fairfield University: "Jews as Global Citizens: Our Responsibility in the World"


R MessingerA lot of people talk about global citizenship, but Ruth W. Messinger lives it.

As someone who has long fought for social justice worldwide, Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), is the perfect choice to deliver the 2011 Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies. The presentation will take place on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m., as part of the university's teaching of global citizenship via curriculum and events. Fairfield values graduating students with the tools, confidence, and vision to put their unique gifts to work as successful global citizens for the benefit of their communities and the world. Free and open to the public, the lecture, "Jews as Global Citizens: Our Responsibility in the World," will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

Messinger leads AJWS, a faith-based international human rights organization that works to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world. In addition to its grant making to over 400 grassroots projects around the world, the organization works within the American Jewish community to promote global citizenship and social justice through activism, volunteer service and education. In recognition of her leadership, Messinger was asked to serve on the Obama administration's Task Force on Global Poverty and Development.

"She speaks for those who have no voice, from the citizens of Haiti and Darfur to the marginalized Americans still struggling after Hurricane Katrina," said Ellen M. Umansky, Ph.D., director of Fairfield's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. "If you look at her many accomplishments, there is little wonder why she is continually among The Forward's '50 most influential Jews of the year.' "

Messinger came to AJWS in 1998 following a 20-year career in public service in New York City, where she served for 12 years on the New York City Council and eight as Manhattan borough president. She was the first woman to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for mayor in 1997.

Considered at the forefront of the movement to end the genocide in the Sudan, Messinger was among leading anti-genocide, peace and human rights advocates called upon to advise President Obama and the new special envoy for Sudan, General J. Scott Gration. "We are interested because this is a humanitarian crisis and we are the Jewish organization that responds to crises around the world," Messinger told The Washington Post about her grave concern for Darfur. "But we are also interested because this is a genocide which has particular meaning to Jews who have sworn never again."

Messinger, a visiting professor at Hunter College and Hebrew Union College, is an active member of her congregation, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. She sits on the boards of Surprise Lake Camp, the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, Hazon and the Save Darfur Coalition.

Grandmother to eight, Messinger is married to Andrew Lachman, the director of an educational foundation in Connecticut.

The lecture is made possible through the generosity of Carl Bennett. The lecture has brought renowned speakers to the University, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

Space is limited. For reservations to the lecture, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 16, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 204