NEW YORK, May 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC honored three women who have demonstrated courage and vision in the service of humanity.
Samia Sleman, a teenage Yazidi refugee; Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University professor and Holocaust expert; and Lauren Bush Lauren, founder and CEO of FEED; were honored at the AJC Women's Leadership Board Spring Luncheon, attended by nearly 400 people. AJC is the premier global Jewish advocacy organization.
The awards event took place hours before the onset of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a point AJC CEO David Harris emphasized in his keynote remarks. "We are living in a defining time, when our cherished values are threatened," said Harris. "Here in the U.S., we have the gifts of freedom, pluralism, security, and opportunity, together giving us the power to speak out and act. Yet, these fundamental values, these gifts, are fragile. If we don't work to defend them, there are others who seek to destroy them and our way of life."
Sleman, a 15-year-old Yazidi, received AJC's Voice of Conscience Award in recognition of her outspoken advocacy for international recognition of the genocide ISIS is perpetrating against the Yazidi minority in Iraq. After surviving more than six months of brutal captivity, sold and resold as a sex slave, Sleman escaped Iraq and currently lives in Germany.
"Victimized but never conquered, you have courageously lifted your voice in the name of all who struggle against abuse and terror, who cry out for freedom," states the AJC Voice of Conscience Award presented to Sleman.
"What happened to the Yazidis is genocide," said Sleman, who passionately told her personal story. "The world should help the Yazidis, punish those who committed crimes against us, and rescue those in captivity, especially women and kids."
Lauren received the AJC Women's Leadership Award for creating FEED, a socially responsible business whose mission is making products to help feed the world. FEED bags and other products sold since 2007 have provided over 87 million meals around the globe.
"I'm inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit," said Bush. "It is in our power to improve the lives of people, one person at a time." Bush established FEED after working internationally and coming face to face with people who do not have regular access to food.
The AJC Women's Leadership Award honors Bush as a "witness to hunger who refused to remain silent, an innovator helping feed the world, a model of creative engagement," and declares, "Your vision and resolve have won our great admiration."
Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, received the AJC Jewish Leadership Award for being a "champion of the Jewish people and the rights and dignity of all people, guardian of historical truth and memory," noting that "your great dedication and ceaseless efforts inspire us all."
Lipstadt is one of the top experts on Holocaust denial and modern anti-Semitism. Among her books are "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving," and "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory."
"I am very grateful to AJC," said Lipstadt, referring to the financial and staff resources the organization provided from the very beginning to help her successful defense against a libel suit filed by Holocaust denier David Irving. The legal ordeal in London lasted five years. It will be the subject of a Hollywood feature film scheduled to be released later this year.
"In Judaism, taking care of the dead is the most generous act of righteousness because one cannot receive anything in exchange," said Lipstadt. "For five years, I stood up for the six million dead."
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee