In Rabbi Noa Mazor’s commentary to Parashat VaYigash, she asks us to reflect on some very difficult questions.
Please feel free to use the following lesson plan, written by Rabbi Nava Hefetz, director of Rabbis for Human Rights’ education program, as you see fit. Continue Reading
Please take a moment to read this Hanukkah greeting by Rabbis for Human Rights chairperson, Rabbi Amy Klein.
By Rabbi Amy Klein
On the first night of Hanukkah, most of us follow the tradition of Hillel and light one candle and then increase the number each night until all eight are lit. However, according to the famous dispute related in the Talmud, in opposition to Hillel, the followers of Shammai lit eight candles on the first night and then gradually reduced them, ending with a single flame (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Shabbat 21b). One of the many commentaries on this text explains that a candle has two qualities:The light that reveals the world, and the flame that burns. In lighting eight candles the first day, Beit Shammai says: Let us burn away the darkness. By turning from evil, we will increase light in the world. Beit Hillel’s approach is a bit different, saying: Let us gradually diminish darkness through increasing the light of good deeds.
In our work at Rabbis for Human Rights, we honor both traditions. Out in the field, we increase the light, fighting one human rights violation at a time. From our education programs teaching youngIsraelis about human rights, to Palestinians in over forty West Bank villages who turn to us for agricultural assistance, and thousands of economically vulnerable Israelis who rely on us to help them receive the benefits they are entitled to, our work spreads the light, mitzvah by mitzvah. At the same time, we transform the sparks we gather in the field into knowledge and power to effect policy and legislative change. Over the last year, successes protecting Israel’s public housing tenants, fighting injustices in Israel’s state budget, and limiting the potential harm of urban renewal have burned away part of the darkness; in the coming months, we will continue to chip away at this task, moving forward our current projects, and starting new ones. (Stay tuned as we set our sights on Hebron…)
Right now, we are tirelessly challenging a proposed law that might easily be one of the most unjust and insolent to ever be proposed by the Israeli government: The Formalization Law (Hok Ha-hasdara). This law will authorize the theft of private Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories by approving the construction of outposts and settlements built on it. The Palestinian landowners will be forced to accept compensation for their lost land in return for forfeiting any chance of returning to their homes and agricultural fields. We are fighting this law in the Knesset, in the courts, and in the streets. Simply put: This is not our Judaism, and it has no place in a democracy.
Festival symbols have a purpose. They stand for a value of which we need reminding. A. D. Gordon, the spiritual leader of Labor Zionism,wrote, “No person sees his flaws but for the light of his soul…And the greater the light of his soul, the more he can see his flaws.” At Hanukkah, we at RHR are reminded that we have the sensitive task of illuminating the flaws of our country and working to banish injustice. It is a difficult task, but if history has taught us anything, it is that the Jewish people are resilient and strong in the face of darkness.
Just as we need the light of Hanukkah each year to remind us of our power to banish dark, so too do we need your light to continue our important work defending the rights of Palestinians and Israelis. Please take a moment to make a generous end of the (secular) year donation in honor of Hanukkah.
Thank you for joining our effort and may you be blessed with the warm light of hope and goodness.
How did our ancestors understand “otherness”? Were people defined by their blood or by their character? In her commentary to Parashat VaYeshev, Tamar Avraham shows us that theories about “purity of blood” are not only immoral and dangerous, but they are also not reflected in the Torah.
There is no question that Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the UK, is one of the most erudite writers on Jewish topics in the English language today. As a contemporary philosopher, his research and reading is widespread, as is his knowledge of classical Western and Jewish texts. In addition, he has been one of the leading orthodox rabbis in this generation who has devoted a good part of his rabbinate and his writings to interreligious relations, dialogue, and education, which is why his books are widely read among non-Jews as well as among Jews. Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish writes a book review on Rabbi Sacks new book. Continue Reading
This Friday (December 23 2016) a new exhibit at the Munio Gitai Weinraub Architecture Museum in Haifa opens on the unique school at the Palestinian-Bedouin community of Khan al Ahkmar near Mishor Adumim. The school, under the threat of demolition due to the failure of the Israeli authorities to provide appropriate planning options for the community, was ecologically built from tires and mud by the Italian organization Vento Di Terra, with the help of Rabbis for Human Rights. The school now successfully provides education for one of the poorest and most marginalized communities in the West Bank. Continue Reading
We at Rabbis for Human Rights are one of those who raised this concern to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. We informed him that bias against Israel in regards to human rights is not just unfair towards the nation itself, but also harms the legitimacy of true, warranted criticism against the government’s actions. Unreliable criticism is harmful towards both the reputation of the United Nations as well as the state of Israel, and ultimately harms the struggle for human rights in for the Palestinian people. Continue Reading
What are the requirements of a strong and meaningful marriage? What about between nations, communities and peoples? In his Dvar Torah to Parashat Toldot this week, Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb inspires us to learn from Rebecca and Isaac. Continue Reading
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