Education, General, Occupied Territories, Reflections from RHR Rabbis & Staff

Why Jerusalem?: Two bereaved fathers give hope for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples

No Comments 24 July 2014

Israeli society, and Jerusalem in particular, is currently living through days and nights of violence, racism and revenge. The fragile calm of the last few years is gone.  Almost every evening, groups of extremists in the streets call for “death to Arabs” and “revenge.” Nevertheless, a handful of citizens try to calm passions, to talk and to explain that these actions are not a Jewish way to act. The words fall on too many deaf ears, while rockets continue to fall throughout the country, and Gazans are left without protection from attacks on their cities.  

As part of Rabbis for Human Rights’ series  featuring the reflections, both human rights related and not,  of our staff and rabbis during Operation Protective Shield, Rabbi Nava Hefetz visits a meeting of the Bereaved Families Forum, and sees a glimmer of something different. Continue Reading

Education, Occupied Territories, Reflections from RHR Rabbis & Staff

There’s extremism, and then there’s my brother, Fahd: By Rabbi Nava Hefetz

No Comments 23 July 2014

 As part of Rabbis for Human Rights’ series  featuring the reflections, both human rights related and not,  of our staff and rabbis during Operation Protective Shield, Rabbi Nava Hefetz, director of education at RHR, shares about her friend Fahd, a Gazan peace activist who lives in Ramallah. Despite the tragedy taking place in our region, the connection between the two remains strong. 
Continue Reading

General, Press Releases, Refugees rights - UNHCR

PRESS RELEASE: Authorities Violently Break-up African Asylum Seeker Protest Camp

No Comments 05 July 2014


Reports of violence against asylum seekers and Israeli human rights activists during the “Freedom March” protest in a forest near Nitzana.


On Sunday (June 29 2014) evening, hundreds of African asylum seekers were evacuated from a forest next to the village of Nitzana near Israel’s border with Egypt. The asylum seekers were violently evacuated by riot police forces and Immigration Department agents, as well as people in civilian dress, apparently civilian security officers from surrounding villages. Continue Reading

Education, General

Sunday July 6th: Learn to engage your communities on the most critical issues facing Israel today!

No Comments 04 July 2014

What does it mean to have a Jewish democracy? How can Israel keep her citizens safe while respecting the rights of others? What do the Jewish texts say about the pursuit of war and peace?


Jewish educators- are you looking for new ways to get your communities and students to ask the hard questions about Israel today?


We can help.


When: Sunday July 6th
Time: 3pm-4:45
Location: RHR Offices, 9 Rehov HaRechavim, 3rd Floor
PICK-UP: From the Hartman Institute at 2:45 pm and return by 5 pm Continue Reading

Education, General

Pull an All-Nighter: Tikkun Leyl Shavuot Listings

No Comments 01 June 2014

Looking to join in on the custom of all-night Torah study on the eve of Shavuot?  Below is a listing of tikkunei leyl Shavuot events throughout the country which are either being organized or taught by RHR rabbis or staff. We hope to see you at one! Continue Reading

Education, General

Judaism, Israel & Human Rights: A Resource For the Night of Shavuot

No Comments 31 May 2014

Even if you have finished putting together your tikkun layl Shavuot (readings for the night of Shavuot),  we are happy to announce that RHR’s Education Department will give advice and support to anybody that wants to teach a lesson from our Tractate Independence (“Masekhet Atzmaut“). Tractate Independence is our Talmudic style commentary to Israel’s Declaration of Independence with a special emphasis on the 13th paragraph dealing with the prophetic vision and human rights.  Continue Reading

Education, General

Walking in the shoes of “the other”

1 Comment 20 May 2014

In an informal social experiment of sorts, Yonatan Hefetz finds out just how many times a day an educated young Arab in Israel is made to feel that his presence is threatening or unwanted.
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Education, General

Teaching Peace, Teaching Israel: A lesson plan in honor of Israeli Independence Day

3 Comments 05 May 2014

In honor of Israeli Independence Day, RHR’s Education Department is releasing  a downloadable lesson plan along with accompanying texts for middle (or high) school. The lesson is from our Independence Tractate, and teachers and other educators are welcome to use it with their students.  The lesson is designed to encourage critical thinking about peace and security, both in the context of Israel today as well as in a historical and religious context.

עמיחי תשסט - 2009

Photo: Israeli students in RHR’s pre-army academy hold up Israel’s Declaration of Independence

About the Independence Tractate

Rabbis for Human Rights’ Independence Tractate is a Talmudic style commentary on Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Made in the style of other modern Tractates created by Yariv Ben-Ahron of Oranim, we began work on the project in 1998 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the birth of the state.  The Tractate is our primary teaching tool for our year long courses with 13 pre-army academies in Israel.  In conjunction with the Jewish Learning Center in San Francisco (formerly, Bureau of Jewish Education) we have created a widely acclaimed English translation and a middle school syllabus. We are currently beginning to pilot this syllabus.

tactateyom haatzmaut 2014

IMAGE: Sample page of the Tractate, done in Talmudic style.

In honor of Israel’s 66th anniversary, we are proud to provide a sample middle school lesson plan (below) and welcome feedback from those of you who use it.

Lesson Plan: Peace and Security (pdf)

Lesson Plan: Peace and Security (word doc)

Accompanying texts, laid out Talmudic style (the “Tractate” itself) (pdf)

For those interested in obtaining the Tractate and/or piloting the syllabus, and/ or providing feedback, please  contact




Education, General, Justice in Israel

RHR’s work in public housing in Beit She’an once again wins “Outstanding Project Award”

No Comments 03 May 2014

We are pleased and proud to announce that once again this year the practicum work of our project in public housing at Beit She’an has been recognized as outstanding by the academic staff of the Yezreel Valley College!  Continue Reading

Education, General, Justice in Israel

Giving answers to public housing residents: An RHR intern on her public housing field work

No Comments 20 April 2014

Reut Srugo interviews Natalie Levy on behalf of the Practicum newsletter of the Department of Human Services at Yezreel Valley College (In Hebrew). Natalie is participating in a practical training course for the public housing residents’ empowerment groups as a part of a project with Rabbis for Human Rights. Two years ago, the practicum project earned first prize at a Yezreel Valley College contest (link in Hebrew). In addition to greatly influencing the field itself, the project has also had a powerful impact on the students themselves.


Natalie, tell us about Rabbis for Human Rights.
The organization works to promote weak populations in various fields and exerts pressure to help defend the rights of minorities in Israel. We are working in the field of public housing to help people claim all of their social rights and deal with the bureaucracy at the Ministry of Housing and Amidar, the state-owned housing company. As part of our work, we visit with people in housing units and we conduct empowerment meetings, which is a really central component of our activity.

What are empowerment meetings and why do they matter?
In a tough neighborhood where most of the housing issues are concentrated, there’s a meeting with the residents of the apartment buildings once a week. The goal of these meetings is that by the end of a three month period, every building will have a person who is in charge of helping out with the residents’ referrals, who will direct the group and serve as their leader in the future. Rabbi Kobi Weiss, our facilitator, gives them tools for how to operate, what they need to do for themselves, instead of expecting things to be handed to them. As part of the meetings, rabbis come and run study sessions. Even the mayor came to one of the meetings. We seek to expand our project to new neighborhoods and to provide a solution to all public housing residents.

Do you feel like you got something out of participating in the practicum this year?
The internship gave me a network of contacts and I learned how to speak in front of an audience and also how to better talk to people. I gained exposure to Israel’s public housing problems and to the fact that there really are people in desperate situations. I learned how to approach people with empathy, to not attack, and in other situations to be assertive, how to listen and what to do to help them. The theoretical knowledge that I learned in class helped, obviously. One other important thing that I learned this year is not to judge people based on stereotypes.

WATCH: Our project to empower public housing residents in Beit She’an got into the top 5 at the Yezreel Valley College competition! The presentation was made by the students Tair Nassi and Natalie Levy (in Hebrew):

Do you feel that your practicum with Rabbis for Human Rights influenced your identity as a woman working in human services? If so, how did that look in practice?
Yes. On a personal level, it changed how I see the field that I want to work in. As in, not necessarily in recruiting and placement, but the social aspect – I guess I now prefer to do active work in the field rather than office work. At this organization there’s only a little bit of administrative work like entering people’s telephone information and there’s a lot more activity out in the field. This semester showed other elements that you don’t see in every organization. Last year I was in a more administrative role. This year I discovered that there is a lot of room to be creative. I’m a person interested in building creative solutions, and here I learned that it’s possible to integrate that approach into your practicum, to go beyond just doing office work. It’s important to me to bring my own voice into my work.

Did you ever get the feeling that you were doing something not related to your practicum?
There were a number of situations like that – it makes sense that more situations like these will take place, like in every organization. When that happens I say to myself, if this is what my manager wants me to do then it’s fine, I don’t need to worry that they are taking advantage or wonder whether it’s ok. Instead I should go with it, do what they expect, but make sure I get explanations for what I’m doing. Also, my facilitator was always trying to make me feel good, and was considerate, calming and supportive.

What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
I want to win the department’s outstanding project award this year. In my opinion, every student in our program wants to earn that honor. When they consider you for the outstanding project award, it means that your work is visible, that they see that you worked for the organization. That kind of recognition would bring me satisfaction both on the inside and on an external level.

In your opinion, when you enter the job market, will you have an advantage over students who didn’t do a practicum?
Of course. Last year I was in a recruitment and placement office and I got to know people who didn’t do a practicum and lacked experience. You learn a lot from your facilitator in the field alongside guidance from lecturers in class.

From the the newsletter of the practicum for the course in social services at Yezreel Valley College (page 6 in Hebrew) | More about the empowerment groups in Beit She’an (also in Hebrew)

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