Education, General, Legal Work

RHR Attorney Quamar Mishirqi-Assad: Powerful Voice in Israeli Society

1 Comment 12 April 2014

Rabbi Nava Hefetz presents us with the profile of a groundbreaking woman in Israeli society: Attorney Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, Head of Rabbis for Human Rights Legal Department in the Occupied Territories.

QuamarSusya residents

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General, Occupied Territories, Refugees rights - UNHCR

Getting Ready for Pesach! Upcoming seders and donations to the needy

No Comments 08 April 2014

Passover starts next week! We ask you to please take a break or two from your Pesakh cleaning and your holiday preparations to join in on a number of social-justice/human rights oriented seders throughout the country, contribute to Kimkha D’Peskha (donations to the needy), and to donate your khametz.

Kimkha d’Peskha

We are again accepting donations so that so that the less fortunate will be able to celebrate on seder night. Please send checks made out to “Rabbis For Human Rights” and designated for “Kimkha D’Peskha” to Rehov HaRehavim 9, Jerusalem 93462 or online here . Again, please note that your contribution is for “Kimkha D’Peskha.”  If you let us know  the check is in the mail, we can use the money  before it even arrives!

Donate your khametz to non-Jews in need

Through Sunday, we can accept khametz in our office in unopened packages and bottles.  We will help you donate in other parts of the country as well. Email:; Telephone: 02-6482757

Human rights seders throughout the country

2014-04-10 Israel Seders Flyer


Let’s restore the meaning of Pesakh by showing our solidarity with and commitment to the slaves and oppressed of our society:  Since 2007, each year during the week before Passover, a “Refugee Seder” has been held in Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, in which refugees and Israelis sit side by side, sharing with one another their own “Exodus” stories, enjoying a warm meal together in tears and in laughter, with bitter herbs and sweet Haroset, celebrating our freedom and aspiring for the freedom of those who are not yet free.

  This year for the first time there  will be two refugee seders in Israel – one in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and one outside the Holot Detention facility in the Negev desert.

1. Tel Aviv Refugee Seder | THURSDAY APRIL 10 2014

8pm-10pm at Rabin Square.Rabbi Estaban Gottfried, an RHR member, will be speaking.

- Roundcircle discussions with Israelis & refugees
- Musical performances
- Theatrical performance: “One Strong Black”
- And more…

FACEBOOK EVENT HERE. Please register via Facebook event.


2.Holot “Open” Detention Facility in the Negev | FRIDAY APRIL 11 2014

1pm-3:30pm (return before Shabbat)

Rides will be leaving from Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv at 10:30 am. Pre-registration required!

- Roundcircle discussions with Israelis & refugees
- Musical performances
- Theatrical performance: “One Strong Black”
- And more…


3. “Combatants for Peace” seder | FRIDAY APRIL 11 2014

1pm, Palestinian village of Masara

Combatants for Peace are organizing a seder in the Palestinian village of Masara, as part of the struggle agains the route of the Separation Barrier

FACEBOOK EVENT HERE  Please register in advance here:

For more information: Saar –


Hag sameach!

Education, General

“I come from an inclusive world”: Rabbi Amsellem visits Beit Midrash for Human Rights

No Comments 02 April 2014

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem met last week (March 26) with our students from the Beit Midrash for Human Rights in cooperation with Hillel at Hebrew University.  Rabbi Amsellem, a Sephardic Haredi rabbi, is a founder of the Shas Party but resigned to establish the Am Shalem movement. Rabbi Amsellem, an articulate man with a commanding presence, opened the discussion with an explanation of his motivations for this move: “What motivates me is getting out of my shell. I see the injustices in Israeli society as well as in the society that I am from, Mizrahi society, and I decided that the best way to make change is to act within the political system.” Rabbi Nava Hefetz brings us her fascinating impressions from this meeting with a ground-breaking leader in Israeli society. Continue Reading

Education, General

Education Snapshot: Student field work combats racism against Arabs over the Internet

1 Comment 06 March 2014

The students of the Beit Midrash for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,  run by Rabbis for Human Rights, volunteer with various organizations that support social change. The field work of Alejandro Suschin, a student at the Beit Midrash, is a powerful example of how Judaism and human rights can fight together against racism and the segregation of Jews and Arabs.

BeitMidrashstudentAlejandroSuschin Continue Reading

Education, General

Education snapshot: Student fieldwork with RHR’s Beit Midrash for Human Rights

No Comments 11 February 2014

???? ?????-2As part of her course of study, Reut Schwartz, student at RHR’s Beit Midrash for Human Rights – operated jointly with Hillel: The Center for Jewish Life on the Hebrew University Campus in Jerusalem, is conducting her field work at Koach La Ovdim – Democratic Workers’ Organization.  She has taken over the work of last year’s Beit Midrash student Noa Regev as an organizer for afternoon day-care workers in Jerusalem. Soon, the workers will elect a representative committee, which will begin negotiations with the employers (the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Association of Community Centers) Continue Reading

Education, General

Update on RHR’s Batei Midrash

No Comments 05 January 2014

In Part 3 of a series on the  work of RHR’s education department from September to December of 2013, Rabbi Nava Hefetz fills us in on the recent activities of RHR’s two human rights batei midrash– at the Hebrew University and at the Jezreel Valley Academic College.beitmidrash1

By: Rabbi Nava Hefetz

We also recently started up again our two Beit Midrash programs: one at the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, in cooperation with Jerusalem Hillel, with 19 new students; and the other at Jezreel Valley Academic College, with 17 students. Debi Shoua-Haim, a rabbinical student at HUC, is continuing to serve as head of the Hebrew University Beit Midrash. Rabbis Kobi Weiss and Tlalit Shavit are also continuing to head the Beit Midrash at Jezreel Valley College. Continue Reading

Education, General

The House on Yesod Hama’ala Street

No Comments 04 January 2014

In Part 2 of Rabbi’s Nava Hefetz’s update on the activities of RHR’s education department from September to December 2013, she uses the story of a south Tel Aviv landlord to explore many of the issues and questions that come up over and over again in her work.


By Rabbi Nava Hefetz

While we were walking down Yesod Hama’ala Street, we noticed a building with an unusual architectural form. After passing by several times, I decided to ask local residents about the building. What was its story and who was the owner? Continue Reading

Education, General

RHR Mechina program update

No Comments 02 January 2014

Part 1 of Rabbi Nava Hefetz’s summary of the activities of the education department from September to December 2013.


By Rabbi Nava Hefetz

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:14)

 RHR’s Pre-Army Mechina Programs

The academic year began with 11 pre-army Mechina programs and one Hesder yeshiva. Pre-army mechina is a preparatory program for recent high school graduates before they go to serve in the IDF, while Hesder yeshiva is a program combining Torah study with IDF service. In geographical terms, the programs are dispersed from the Golan Heights and Galilee Panhandle in the north to Sde Boker in the Negev. There are six rabbis and rabbinical students teaching in the programs. Continue Reading

General, Refugees rights - UNHCR

Remembering what it means to be Jewish

No Comments 24 December 2013

Heart-wrenching scenes outside the Israeli Parliament: dozens of refugees, shivering from the cold, forcefully crammed into buses which will take them to jail for the crime of being refugees. We have forgotten, completely forgotten, what it means to be Jewish. Tami Molad-Hayo seeks a different kind of Judaism.refugeearrest

Photo:  Refugees at Freedom March, Jerusalem, Dec 17 2013, Active Stills

We have forgotten what it means to be Jewish

By Tami Molad-Hayo

Being Jewish is first and foremost to be different, to be rejected and persecuted, and yet to persist. Being Jewish is to remember the principle of our relationship to the other, to those who are different from us. That the entire Torah can be summed up as, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I am not a religious woman, but I am a Jew with every fiber of my being. Every insult, every persecution, every attack and murder which others have suffered because they were Jews has made a deep mark on my soul. Every such moment in our history imprinted an undying message on my character: no more, ever again. Never will I allow them to persecute another human being because he is different, never will I be silent when I witness abuse towards those who are weak, never will I turn a blind eye in the face of injustice. I am unable to accept that what was done to me throughout history will be done unto others.

For who understands like we do the true meaning of persecution, of intolerance and indifference? Jews who have been ostracized, persecuted, and murdered.

Eritrean-500x300Yet it is precisely here in the State of Israel that we have turned into thugs, into oppressors and persecutors, into people who silence and ignore the plight of others. We – the country, the authorities, the organized collective known as the State of Israel – are doing this. And make no mistake: the state is doing this in our name.

Intoxication with power and the blinding fear of repeating the past have made us cruel, cold-hearted, and indifferent to the plight of others, others who are different from us and others who come from our own ranks.

There is a clear line which leads directly from the persecution of Jews over our long history to the persecution of refugees here in Israel, to the wretched poverty of children and the elderly, to the ongoing occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians, to the use of force against civilians by the police and security forces, to the attempts to silence anyone who does not see eye-to-eye with Israel’s current government, to corruption, to exploitation, to chasing after wealth, and to the perpetual search for enemies rather than for peace and justice.

From our own persecution we have learned how to persecute and from the cruelty visited upon us we have learned how to be cruel. From being outcast we have learned how to be indifferent, from our own destruction we have learned the power of the destroyer. The lesson we have yet to learn is how to accept others, to show compassion, to offer assistance, to bear witness, and to save those in need.

This country, which came into existence from the ashes of war and annihilation in order to guarantee our own existence and continuity, will not survive a collapse in our moral fiber, in the ethical essence of our being. We cannot abandon our promise to be a “light unto the nations,” an exemplary society which evinces proper ethical, humanistic conduct.

We have forgotten, simply forgotten, who we are. And if we do not wake up and remember and stand up and align ourselves with the oppressed of the world, then who are we and why are we here?

It’s not too late to correct this. It’s not too late to remember. This change needs to start here at home, first among the weak sectors of Israeli society, including the refugees, and afterwards we can make peace with our neighbors. And then, tall and proud, we will be able to stand in front of the world as torch-bearers of humanity and fight against cruelty and injustice throughout the world. After we light our candle, we will be able to light up the entire world.

It’s not too late.

Tami Molad-Hayo is a journalist and a social activist.



Refugees rights - UNHCR

Refugees march for freedom

1 Comment 18 December 2013

And the refugee came to me…


by Rabbi Nava Hefetz

Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office, 3:15 p.m. Hundreds of asylum seekers are demonstrating and demanding their freedom. A handful of Israelis and a few Members of Knesset stand by them. They begin to walk toward the Knesset, but hundreds of police – patrol cars full of Migration Police – shove them into buses and send them back to Holot prison facility. What evil, what lack of compassion and sensitivity in the face of people who fled hell in their own countries and seek asylum! We’re all familiar with the picture, aren’t we? After all, 65 years ago we were also held behind barbed wire fences in Cyprus. Is this the face of humanity? Is this Jewish conduct? Standing there by the Knesset, I saw the ugly, cruel faces of the leaders of my beloved country. My dear friend Dudu Palma, the son of Holocaust survivors, is a poet, a painter, and an outstanding educator. He wrote down the following words. Please share them.

Yizkor – Remembrance

by David (Dudu) Palma

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How those who vowed to forget nothing
Slowly fell into silence.
Again young men die, pistols in hand,
Again Molotov cocktails from fading photographs
Smash in sepia light against the side of armored vehicles.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How rust-eaten ships rise up
Shattering forgetfulness.
The sounds of the mourner’s Kaddish echo from Warsaw and Altona
The dead squirm like worms in the warrens of our memory
From Bukovina and Bialystok, and again the lads from Vilna
Sing in the heavens with the voices of angels.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forget will testify
How the Cossacks laugh in Namirov,
Why babies wail in Kishinev,
And with what cause prayers are sighed in Minsk.
And again horses whinny on the paths of Kolomyia,
And again women shake in Tranov.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How the seals of time were sundered
And again Jews are led to Dachau, Buchenwald, Neuengamme.
Again they are humiliated to death in Ravensbrück
Again, almost apologetically, they die in Treblinka, Chelm, Majdanek,
Again a last waltz is played in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen,
And again decaying teeth screech in Terezin and Sobibor.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
That we were every old man executed there
And every baby shot to death there.
We are a glass booth placed before Israel,
For those who remember have forgotten and those who forget will remember
That we were

Translation from Hebrew: Shaul Vardi

More information and details on the march here

WATCH: Coverage filmed live from Jerusalem yesterday just before the stopping of the demonstration.

Video streaming by Ustream

April 28: Stand with RHR against housing demolitions!

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