General, Occupied Territories

RHR stands in solidarity with our colleagues at B’Tselem and American Friends of Peace Now

1 Comment 20 October 2016

Rabbis for Human Rights supports our colleagues at American Friends of Peace Now and the Israeli human rights NGO B’tselem on their appearance before the United Nations Security Council and stands in solidarity with them in light of recent attacks  against them – especially by the Prime Minister – after their criticising of the occupation. Continue Reading


Recent changes at Rabbis for Human Rights

No Comments 18 October 2016


In order to be fully transparent to the public, we want to update you regarding a number of recent changes within Rabbis for Human Rights. Rabbi Arik Asherman, formerly president and senior rabbi of the organization, has recently decided to resign. We wish him the best of luck. Additionally, two additional staff members also resigned. We have already welcomed new and highly experienced team members to fill their positions, and they are well on their way promoting the mission of RHR. Continue Reading


Statement of concern regarding language on recent resolution passed by UNESCO

No Comments 18 October 2016

Rabbis for Human Rights is concerned by the wording choice on the recent resolution passed by UNESCO describing the holy places of the two religions under their Arab/Muslim names only. Wording such as this disrespects the relationship between Judaism and the Temple Mount [Har HaBait] and the Western Wall.

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RHR’s Sukkot Harvest (“Assif”) of Rights: Positive Trends in the Area of Human Rights in Israel

No Comments 13 October 2016

In this brief collection, we will present positive trends in the area of human rights in Israel — including social rights — achieved in the past year. We will also focus on the achievements of Rabbis for Human Rights. We believe it is extremely important to put an emphasis on positive trends even during challenging and difficult times in which we are experiencing multiple instances of injustice and failures in Israel and the territories under its control. The vast majority of these achievements did not happen by themselves. They are the result of stubborn and continuous struggles. This teaches us that we still have considerable ability to make a difference and promote rights. Continue Reading

General, ICCI

Don’t miss: Rabbi Ron Kronish & Mayor Issa Jaber Oct/Nov East Coast Speaking Tour

No Comments 13 October 2016

Friends on the East Coast of the United States – do not miss this opportunity to hear Rabbi Ron Kornish and Mayor Issa Jaber speak about their work together on issues relating to Arab-Jewish coexistence, inter-religious dialogue, and the search for peace. Check below to find the location nearest you! Continue Reading

Education, General

Lesson Plan: Yom Kippur 5777

No Comments 10 October 2016

Please feel free to use the following lesson plan, prepared by the education department of Rabbis for Human Rights, as you see fit.

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RHR Yom Kippur vidui (confession) for 5777

No Comments 09 October 2016

Rabbis, cantors, prayer leaders,  facilitators and anyone else are invited to use this vidui in the synagogue or other settings.  It would never be possible to be comprehensive, so please feel free to copy and paste and add and subtract to create your own personal/societal viduit. The point is to challenge you to engage in chesbon nefesh (soul searching), not to silence or intimidate. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

RHR, with help of the Harvest Coalition, kicks off the Palestinian olive harvest season

No Comments 09 October 2016


Rabbis for Human Rights, with the help of the Harvest Coalition, kicks off the Palestinian olive harvest season in the West Bank Continue Reading

General, Parasha / E-Letter

Shabbat Shuva/Yom Kippur Dvar Torah: Between One Individual & Another

No Comments 06 October 2016

%22God will return to us when we return to God, we are told, and the way to God is through correcting our ways and opening our hearts to our fellow human beings%22-3

By Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann

A popular rabbinic saying in Talmud Bavli, Tractate Yoma, 87b (quote below)  regarding the relationship between Yom Kippur and the process of teshuva (repentance or turning around) tells us that Yom Kippur atones for sins between God and the individual, but it does not atone for sins between one individual and another until a person makes amends to the other against whom  they have sinned.  Only after an interpersonal tikkun (repair or healing) does Yom Kippur complete the spiritual process. What is true for the individual is also true within a community and even between nations. Reconciliation is a necessary step, without which there can be neither peace– not in the community and not between nations –  nor peace of mind for the individual sinner. The relationship of that individual, that community or that people to God remains flawed.

“For sins between man and God Yom Kippur atones, but for sins between man and his fellow, Yom Kippur does not atone until he appeases his fellow. R. Elazar ben Azarya derived [this from the verse]: ‘From all your sins before God you shall be cleansed’ (Vayikra 16:30)

The Gemara (87a) continues:

“R. Yitzchak said: Whoever aggravates his fellow even through words is required to placate him. R. Yosi bar Chanina said: Whoever beseeches forgiveness from his friend should not beseech him more than three times.  And if he died, [the offender] brings ten people and must stand them by his grave and he says, ‘I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and so-and-so whom I wounded.’”

The ten days of penitence or “turning” from Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur are a ritual-liturgical expression  of this rabbinic insight. The focus of the slichot (forgiveness) prayers, and particularly of the vidui (confession) repeatedly recited in this period, is on sins between people much more than on ritual transgression.

RHR, influenced by a humanist or universalist interpretation of Judaism, has expanded the confessional prayers in our annual pre- Yom Kippur materials (coming soon…) to include sins against others beyond “the tribe.” We believe  this is in keeping with the universalist tone of many of the High Holyday prayers – celebrating the creation of the world or/and humankind. They remind us again and again of the vision of one humanity, worshipping the one true God, and standing together in judgment before the Holy One. The Aleinu (“For Us”) prayer – originally written for the “Days of Awe”, but now recited throughout the year – is a central example of this religious vision. There is indeed a particularist element in this prayer that causes some of us discomfort but the ultimate vision is nevertheless one of humanity standing before God:

“And so we hope in You our God, soon to see Your splendor, sweeping idolatry away…perfecting earth by Your kingship so that all mankind will invoke Your name…, bringing all the earth’s wicked back to You, repentant…”

The words of the prophets (Isaiah, Hosea) read in last week’s and this week’s haftara also make it clear that teshuva must be a two-way process. God will return to us when we return to God, we are told, and the way to God is through correcting our ways and opening our hearts to our fellow human beings.

As we celebrate and prepare ourselves spiritually for this new  year, let us find the place within our souls from which to continue our holy work. Let us create a place of inner peace, reconciled with our own limitations, our human frailty, while striving for reconciliation with those against whom we have sinned, but nevertheless filled with hope for the future .

G’mar Hatima Tova – May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!

YehielRabbi Yehiel Grenimann is a the director of organisational development at Rabbis for Human Rights.

Read previous Torah commentaries 


Blessings for a Joyful New Year from all of us at Rabbis for Human Rights!

No Comments 02 October 2016

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Very soon, Jews dwelling in all corners of our world, from Israel to Canada, the United States, France and South Africa, will come together not as citizens of separate countries, but as the Jewish people. Linguistic, cultural and physical barriers fall to the side as we take our places together as one body bound by the Jewish tradition of casting away the bad, seeking forgiveness collectively and individually, and recognizing that far too many have been harmed by the callousness of oppression, inequality, racism and misogyny.

Some approach these days in trepidation. What will the year hold for me? For the Jewish people? For the State of Israel? What for all of humanity?


We hear the haunting recitation:

Who shall rest and who shall wander, 

Who shall be at peace and who will be tormented,

Who shall be rich and who shall be poor,

Who shall be degraded and who shall be exalted?

These words are not merely a spiritual exercise; for the world’s most vulnerable people — including the Palestinian and Israeli communities served by Rabbis for Human Rights — the answers to these questions and similar ones mean everything:

Who shall harvest safely and who shall be intimidated,

Who shall receive water, and who shall go without,

Whose home shall be demolished and whose home shall be spared,

Whose children shall hunger, and whose shall be satiated?

As the Shofar calls us to action, will you take your place with the Jewish community and help us ensure the best possible outcome to these devastating questions in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

Your generosity this Rosh Hashannah goes a long way: it ensures Palestinian farmers safely harvest their olives, that the voices of Israelis living in poverty will be heard in the Knesset, that threatened Palestinian communities in the Occupied Territories have their day at court and that young Israelis feel pride in their tradition’s commitment to human rights.

Together we can make 5777 a year of compassion.


With gratitude and blessings for a shanah tovah!

On behalf of the entire staff and board,

Rabbi Amy Klein, Chair

Ayala Levy, Executive Director


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