Under the direction of senior Mikhal Ben-Joseph, Tikkun Olam hosted the second annual Butterfly Bagel Brunch in the Educational Environmental Center this Sunday. The event served to raise awareness of genocides in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as fundraise for the Yazidi people of Iraq. In 2014, ISIS led a genocide against the Yazidi, who practice a syncretic religion that blends elements of Islam and Zoroastrianism.
Approximately 65 people attended Sunday’s event and raised over $900. The funds will go towards helping the Yazidi women who were sexually enslaved during the ISIS occupation of the Yazidi territory.
“The idea is if we can connect everyone’s different talents and interests and families’ history to the theme of anti-genocide advocacy, we can create some tangible change in the lives of people who are suffering,” Ben-Joseph said.
The mission of the Butterfly Project is to commemorate the lives lost in the Holocaust and create 1.5 million ceramic butterflies for the 1.5 million children who died during the genocide. “I had this idea that I wanted to create … at the very least a memorial space on campus,” Ben-Joseph said. “But as more I started to get teachers and students involved, it kind of grew into something more full-scale that fit the entire school.”
Sunday served as a chance for people of all faiths and affiliations to unite and promote the Butterfly Project and support the Yazidi people. “One of the most important things is that it wasn’t a Holocaust project for me,” Ben-Joseph said. “It was all 20th and 21st modern genocides.”
Despite Ben-Joseph’s graduation later this year, she has developed a plan for the brunch to carry on through Tikkun Olam. She hopes it will become not only a school-wide event but a community-wide event that will attract families from the area to come together to raise awareness for this cause.
Photos by Amber Bhutta.