Parasha / E-Letter

Volunteer to fix society: Newsletter for Parshat “Vayeshev”

0 Comments 05 December 2012

Picture: The children of Jacob sell their brother Joseph, Konstantin Flavitsky, c. 1855

Parshat Hashavua

What was, what will be and Torah thoughts


cc: wikipediaSex, Lies and Holy Scripture: D’var Torah for Vayeshev 5773 by Rabbi Peretz Rodman

Political power and sexual harassment are a familiar pair in today’s media. But not every week do we encounter that distasteful combination in the parsha. Even rarer in both the press and Tanakh is a woman who leverages her political stature to exploit a man and harass him sexually. But that’s exactly what we see with Potiphar’s wife in our parsha.

The week that will be

  • 7 December 2012 – a demonstration at the entrance to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, 3 pm

The week that was

We participated in a round table discussion of the Du-Kiyum (coexistence) Forum in order to address the rise in demolitions among the Negev Bedouin, both in recognized and unrecognized villages. Rabbis for Human Rights, Hamaabarah activists and other allied groups wrote to the State Auditor to encourage him not to relent in the fight against the treasury and Jerusalem Municipality. That followed our discovery that the public housing company Prazot is about to close. We demanded that he investigate the transfer of NIS 130 million to the Jerusalem Municipality, so that the public housing funds would indeed reach disempowered populations.

Two pre-army academies toured south Tel Aviv, meeting with African refugees and Israelis. Social activist Tami Molad-Hayo met with another three academies.

Rabbi Ascherman stood trial twice last week:

  • In the first case he was tried for blocking a road. The incident occurred in 2008; he blocked an access road to Bir Al Eid when inhabitants of the settler outpost Mitzpe Yair took it over. The residents blocked a Palestinian’s car, a man who lived in the area and wanted to get through. Rabbi Asherman is suspected of blocking the entry road to Mitzpe Yair for a few moments in response to the settlers’ roadblock, so that the Palestinian could go free.
  • In the second case Rabbi Asherman and 15 activists from “Solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah” stood trial for an incident in 2010. They are accused of sitting next to a police roadblock and preventing demonstrators from entering Sheikh Jarrah. The case represents a clear double standard. In the incident the police blocked protesters’ entrance into Sheikh Jarrah even though two days earlier, on Jerusalem Reunification Day, they let hundreds of rightist demonstrators enter and demonstrate provocatively. 

Social and Economic Justice

The Rights Center in Hadera expanded their activities recently and went door-to-door in Giv’at Olga. That day they received many telephone inquiries and as a result many residents came to the Center. Come volunteer at the RHR Rights Center.

Rights in the Occupied Territories

Rabbi Yechiel Greineman is looking for English teachers to volunteer for instruction of the children of the Jahalin tribe in Kahn Al Ahmar. For more details, call Jonathan Sheff: 050-2025997.

Rabbi Greineman: “During the 2012 olive harvest Rabbis for Human Rights was involved in coordinating the harvest days in 39 Palestinian villages. In addition to transporting volunteers to the field to protect the farmers, Rabbis for Human Rights interceded with the Civil Administration to guarantee Palestinians’ access to their farmlands. We also visited a number of villages to help Palestinians fully exercise their rights to security and livelihood. Through that work we collected information directly and indirectly; we worked to increase our involvement through our contacts in the villages and to make sure to remain up-to-date regarding developments in the field. Here is a short report of our activities and a statistical survey that we conducted during the 2012 olive harvest.

On Sunday (2 December) shepherds from the Jahalin tribe in Area E-1 encountered surveyors and inspectors who claimed they were preparing the area for development work. Such work would contravene guarantees of the Civil Administration given at a Knesset session in January not to transfer the Jahalin tribe without dialogue. The Jahalin shepherds cannot subsist just anywhere, and arbitrary relocation would condemn the Jahalin, who already live in abject poverty, to great distress. See the Rabbis for Human Rights position paper regarding E-1 (Hebrew).

RHR lawyers and Rabbi Yechiel Greineman toured the Shilo Valley as part of the effort to restore Palestinian access to their farmlands. We utilized the Freedom of Information Act, and sent a request to get the opinion of Plia Albeck (since the 1980’s much Palestinian land has been decreed State land). The settlers appealed our request so they could keep the stolen lands.

A field staff of the Occupied Territories Rights Department has made a harvest schedule for next year. We arranged two additional days for the farmers of Jayus to complete their work between the separation barrier and the Green Line. Similarly, we are now working to help the farmers of Yanun and Aqraba finish their harvest. In Sinjil, vandals (dressed as soldiers) slashed the tires of 26 cars. In Burin we intervened when the army wanted to stop a group of women from visiting a lone woman who suffers at the hands of settlers. We called in the security forces when settlers came down and attacked, causing damage in Orif (on the Kol Yehudi site it was reported that the settlers threw stones at the soldiers when they fled). The soldiers arrested a Palestinian, whom we helped free.

As mentioned, we are continuing to teach English to the Jahalin children.

Rabbinical student Yehonatan Sheff arranged a meeting of students with clerics of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.


Last week we put out a press release: Organizations warn the Auditor: About NIS 80 million in public housing funds in Jerusalem are poised to be used for other purposes.

Our work for human rights in South Mt. Hebron earned a central place in the news segment of Hayarkon 70.

Rabbi Arik Asherman  wrote an article in the Huffington Post about Parshat Hashavua last week through the lens of current events. Also, listen to the interview Rabbi Asherman gave on the radio show “Let’s Talk About This” regarding human rights during the Gaza War:


Shabbat Sahlom

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