This community itself is a vehicle for change
By Brenda Gazzar
Devorah Eshet Ravya of Dimona was born and raised in Chicago during politically and socially turbulent times.
So when Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was elected last week as the first African American president of the United States, the 54-year-old member of the Black Hebrews couldn't help but feel a deep sense of hope and satisfaction.
"To see, at this time, something I never believed I would ever see - a black man being validated as being worthy, being competent, being a man of great achievement... to lead what is believed to be the most powerful nation on earth, is very gratifying," Eshet Ravya said Sunday, while sitting in a garden at the entrance to the community's kibbutz, the Village of Peace, in Dimona.
"We are siblings of the same struggle, so to speak," said Priest Yehuda HaCohane, 43. "We desire a better world. This community itself is a vehicle for change," a beacon of light to the nations.
For example, through the community's strict vegan diet, healthy lifestyle and culture, the community has rid itself of many health and social diseases that plague others around the world from the same gene pool, he said.
"We've been able to avoid many of the scourges that affect people there; diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, it goes on down the line," he said.
Community members say they have succeeded in purging other ills that have plagued African Americans in the US, ranging from alcoholism, to drug abuse, to violent crime.
In 2005, in collaboration with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957, the community opened a conflict resolution center in Dimona that teaches holistic nonviolence and reconciliation in communities.
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