General

RHR Yom Kippur Vidui 5775

No Comments 30 September 2014

Below please find the RHR vidui, or recounting of our sins,  for 5775.  We encourage you to print it and adapt it to serve your own needs during the High Holidays this year.

RHR Vidui 5775

Jews praying at synagogue on Yom Kippur by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1877. CC-wikipedia, public domain

Jews praying at synagogue on Yom Kippur by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1877. CC-wikipedia, public domain

RHR 5775 Vidui-Word doc ENGLISH (can be altered or adapted)

RHR 5775 Vidui-PDF- ENGLISH

RHR 5775 Vidui-Word doc HEBREW

The vidui (recounting of our sins) is not just a collection of words that we automatically repeat on Yom Kippur. They are burning words, intended to make us feel uncomfortable because they speak painful truths about lives and our society that we must confront if we are to truly engage in the kheshbon nefesh (soul searching) that is a primary task during this season. Most of us simply can’t do it for most of the year. A vidui focused on Israel is even more difficult for us. Aware as we are of those who wish Israel harm, we don’t even want to admit to ourselves that there are areas where Israel needs to change. But, sometimes the power of the High Holy Days allows us to do what we don’t manage to do at other times. The RHR vidui attempts to channel our hearts as the traditional vidui was meant to do by helping us to engage in khesbon nefesh. This honest hard look at our society is actually the opposite of delegitimization. It is a deep affirmation of our belief that we and our society are essentially good. If we do the necessary hard work, we have the ability to return to our truest and highest selves.

The vidui may not feel like prayer because, like the traditional vidui, it is concrete and asks us to take individual responsibility for the collective sins of our society. For this reason it is written in the plural. In many cases the first line is from the traditional vidui, and there are notes after the vidui explaining which traditional sources many of the concepts are taken from.

If some of the lines do not feel to you like they apply to Israeli society, please think twice. If you still don’t think something applies, we hope that our vidui will challenge you to create your own. It would never be possible to be comprehensive, so please feel free to download the word version of our viduit, then cut and paste and add and subtract to create your own personal/societal viduit. If this vidui seems simply too long and intimidating, choose a few verses, and concentrate on them. The point is to challenge you to engage in khesbon nefesh, not to silence or intimidate.

Just as the High Priest in ancient times had to recite his own vidui before saying a vidui for others, we need to look at our own sins before we recount the sins of others. For some the sin they must confess is always assuming the worst about Israel, while others must confess defending Israel, no matter what. When we engage in true kheshbon nefesh (soul searching) about Israel on Yom Kippur, we can then celebrate Israel’s assif rukhani (spiritual harvest – what is good and positive about Israel) on Sukkot. The RHR vidui and assif are in that sense two sides of the same coin.

Whatever we must personally confess to, the vidui is intended for those who in some way identify with Israel. The point of the vidui is not to point your finger at somebody else, but to take a critical look at yourself and the society/societies you identify with. If you don’t identify with Israeli society, you might want to construct a similar vidui looking at the societies and communities of which you are a part, and share responsibility for.

For rabbis, cantors, prayer leaders and facilitators who wish to use this vidui in the synagogue or other settings, you can click here to download a word version that can be handed out, abridged, etc. If you are on our regular mail mailing list, you should also have received a version abridged to two sides. Like the traditional vidui , the RHR vidui can also be read responsively.

 

*****

 RHR Vidui 5775

For the sin we have sinned against You through harsh judgement,

Because we lacked faith in You, in ourselves, and in our society.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through offensive talk,

Because we scorned those whose concept of justice is different than ours.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “If I am not for myself who will be for me,”

Because we cared only for our own, and justified Israel whether right or wrong.

And for the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “If I am only for myself, who am I,”

Because we cared only about the Other, and blamed Israel for everything.

And for the sin we have sinned against You,  ignoring, “If not now, when,” 

Because we silenced the suffering with “It will take time” and “You will have to wait.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You intentionally or unintentionally,

Because we confused the current reality with the ideal reality.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through lowered expectations,

Because we believed the current reality is “good enough.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through accepting current reality,

Because we believed tikun olam (repairing the world) is beyond us, “In the heavens.”

And for the sin we have sinned against you, whether forced or willfully,

Because we asserted “I can’t,” when we meant, “I don’t want to.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through throwing off the yoke,

Because we gave up and said, “Let others repair the world.”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through short sightedness,  

  Because we neglected education and long-term solutions.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through lip-service,

Because we moralized without translating words into action.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through faint heartedness,

Because we stood confused, without faith that light dispels darkness.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through scoffing,

Because we mocked those who yet believe they can bring about a better world.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through knowingly deceiving ourselves,

Because we said, ”Everything will be fine,” in order to justify inaction.

 

For the sin we sinned against you through saying, “We didn’t know”

But, we knew.

And, for the sin we sinned against You unknowingly, 

Because we didn’t want to know.

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through silencing our conscience,

Because we told ourselves that the death of over 2,000 Gazans was entirely Hamas’ fault.

And for the sin we have sinned against you, openly or in secret,

Because we did not inquire about actions of our citizens, soldiers and those who sent them.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through causeless hatred,

Because we said those concerned about Palestinians shoot our soldiers in the back.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through causeless hatred,

Because we said anybody concerned about our security is a murderer of children.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through justification,

Because we insisted that all is permissible in the name of defense.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through rushing to do wrongly,

Because we forsook non-violent solutions in favor of force.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through halting negotiations and hope,

Did we do enough to prevent bloodshed?

And for the sin we have sinned against You through claiming we were forced to do what we wished for,

Because we used the war’s expenses to justify withholding from Israel’s poor.

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through not taking action (shev v’al ta’aseh),

Because we sat in our comfortable homes, as others were evicted from theirs.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through the abuse of power,

Because we permitted the state to use its power against the poor and helpless.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through quieting our conscience,

Because we gave charity rather than dealt with the roots of poverty.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through deception,

Because we created a committee on poverty without intent to listen to it.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through lashon ha’ra (slander),

Because we claimed that the unemployed or those in need of public housing are “faking it.”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through haughtiness,

Because we trampled the dignity of those with arms outstretched in need.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through raising barriers,

Because unfair eligibility requirements deny the needy homes.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through leaving buildings empty,

Because others lack homes.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through usurious interest,

Because we trapped others in endless debt.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through casting aside the weak,

Because we neglected healthcare and denied medicines.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine,”

Because we justified the unfair distribution of resources.

And for the sin we have sinned against You, saying “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours,”

Because we refrained from a just distribution of resources.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through indulging in food and drink,

As the social gap increases.

And for the sin which we have sinned against You through abandoning your Torah,

Because we are no longer a society responsible for one another.

 

For the sin which we have sinned against You through hardening our hearts,

To poverty, hunger and despair.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through mouthing words,

As if we truly cared about the weakest and poorest among us.

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through the desecration of Your Name,

Because we fulfilled the interpersonal commandments only towards Jews.

And for the sin which we have sinned against You through insolence,

Because we claimed that only Jews have rights to the Land.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through thoughtlessness,

Because we believed and repeated, “The Bedouin are taking over the Negev…”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through silencing our conscience,

Because we told ourselves that transferring, destroying and dispossessing is “for the good of the Bedouin.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through denial and falsehood,

Because we do not recognize land ownership previously acknowledged by the early Zionists.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through selfish envy,

Because we argued that 5.4% of the Negev is too much for the Bedouin.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through abuse of power,

Because wedemolished Bedouin homes, took lands and destroyed crops.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through running to do evil,

Because we hurried to grab land without a court ruling.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through settling accounts,

Because we acted mercilessly to wipe out El-Araqib.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through facts on the ground,

Because we planned Jewish “Khiran” where “Um El Khiran” now stands.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through drunken vision,

Because we did not see Israeli Arabs as equal partners.

And for the sin we have sinned against You, consciously or unconsciously,

Because we denied equal opportunity to every citizen.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through defiling our lips

with hate speech.

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through idolatry,

Because we violated human rights to reclaim the land of Israel.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through the evil inclination,

Because we allowed our desire for the Land to overcome the pursuit of peace.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through double standards,

Because we created separate laws for Jews and Palestinians.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through ruling high handedly,

Because Palestinians are not represented in courts and institutions which determine their fates.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through plotting against our Palestinian neighbors,

Because we prevented them from building legally through unfair zoning plans..

And for the sin we have sinned against You through closing our ears,

Because we ignored the wails of children as we demolished their “illegal” homes.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You, knowingly or unknowingly,

Because we permitted our governments to steal, demolish, uproot, and humiliate.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through weakness,

Because we failed to prevent “Price Tag” attacks.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through entrapment,

Because we arrested and abused children, without evidence, to extract confessions.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through inflaming hatred,

Because we oppressed and because we humiliated.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through breach of trust,

Because we backtracked on allowing Palestinians to defend their lands.

And for the sin we have sinned against You by disrespecting parents, teachers and children,

Because we did not build needed classrooms in East Jerusalem.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You because we were seduced and blinded,

Driven to covet homes not our own by the magic of Jerusalem.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through distorted vision,

We allowed our love of the Land to overpower honoring Your Image.

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through closing our borders,

To refugees and asylum seekers fleeing for their lives.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through abuse of power,

Because we jailed them deep in the desert.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through defiling our lips,

Because we labeled all asylum seekers “infiltrators” without checking who is truly a refugee.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through our words,

Because we incited and sowed fear.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through causing needless hatred,

Because we concentrated asylum seekers in already troubled South Tel Aviv.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through justifying,

Because we took no responsibility for what became of asylum seekers after we deported them “voluntarily.”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through duplicitous denial of responsibility,

Because we denied them work permits and support, then accused them of high crime rates.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through forgetting,

The many times borders were closed for us.

And for the sin we have sinned against You for forgetting,

That we were once strangers in the land of Egypt.

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through the desecration of your name,

Because we abandoned the “agunot” (women not granted a Jewish divorce) and ignored the solutions that exist in the Halacha.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through education,

Because we taught our children stereotypes and prejudice.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through scoffing,

Because we denigrated new immigrants and failed to honor their traditions.

And for sin we have sinned against You through spiritual blindness,

Because we did not see You in all the “others” who live among us.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through casting off the yoke,

Because we exploited our majority to “democratically” trample the minority.

 And for the sin which we have sinned against You through thinking to ourselves and whispering in closed rooms,

That which we should have cried aloud, raising our voices as a shofar.

 

 

For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts bring us to true teshuva, and lead us forward to acts of righteousness, so that we make our world a place in which the Shekhina can dwell.

 

May it be Your Will that we merit to give expression to Your Image within us in the coming year through love and generosity.

 

May it be Your Will that we will in some small way help to contain evil and injustice, improving the human condition in our world.

 

References:

 

Because we sometimes use translations of phrases from the traditional vidui that are different than the ones you may find in your High Holy Day prayerbook, we provide here a transliteration of the key words from the traditional vidui, as well as other references that are found in the RHR vidui. If no reference is found here, that means that the phrase in question is not taken from the traditional vidui or other source.

 

***

Harshly judging others – flilut

Offensive talk – dibur peh

 

The next three phrases are a well known quote from Hillel in Pirkei Avot:

“If I am not for myself who will be for me,” – Im eyn ani li, mi li

“If I am only for myself, who am I” – c’sh’ani l’atzmi, mah ani

“If not now, when” – Im eyn akshav, ei-matai

 

Intentionally or unintentionally – zdon u’shgaga

 

-Accepting current reality – tziduk hadin

-In the heavens – “The Torah I enjoin upon you this day is not baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it’ …No, the thing is very close to you, in our mouth and in your heart, to observe it,” Deuteronomy 30:11-12

-Whether forced or willingly – b’ones u’v'ratzon

 

-Throwing off the yoke – frikat ol

-Short sightedness – tzarut ayin (This usually means “envy,” but literally means “Shortness of the eye. We changed the Hebrew this year to “kalut rosh” – levity or lack of seriousness)

 

-Lip service – vidui peh

-Faint heartedness -timahon levav

 

-Scoffing – latzon

-Knowingly deceiving ourselves – da’at u’v'mirmah

 

-”We didn’t know” – b’vli da’at

 

***

 

-Openly or in secret – b’galui u’v'seter

 

Causeless hatred – sinat khinam. (It is said that causeless [or baseless] hatred is responsible for the destruction of the Second Temple.

 

-Justification – tziduk hadin

-Running to do evil-ritzat reglayim le’ha’ra

 

-Halting negotiations – masa u’matan (Negotiations or bartering. Literally “give and take”)

-Claiming we were forced to do what we wished for – b’ones u’v'ratzon (Literally “By compulsion and (or) willfully”)

 

***

-Sitting and not taking action – Shev v’al ta’aseh

-Abuse of power – khozek yad

 

-Deception – hona’at raiah

 

-Slander – lashon ha’ra

-Haughtiness – eynayim ramot

 

-Usurious interest – neshekh u’vmarbit

-Casting aside the weak. In another section of the Yom Kippur liturgy we pray, “Do not cast us aside in our old age, don’t abandon us when our strength fails. The Hebrew version reads differently – k’fitzat yad – miserliness.

 

-“What’s mine is mine, what’s your’s is mine”; “What’s mine is mine, what’s your’s is your’s”- These verses are taken from Pirke Avot. One who says “What is mine is mine, what’s your’s is mine is clearly an evil person, while one who says “What is mine is mine, what is your’s is your’s is an average person. However, we are told that there are those who say that this is the quality of the Sodomites, because they would offer no help to a person in need, but say that they were ok, so long as they didn’t take anything from that person.

 

-Food and drink – ma’akhal u’mishteh

-Our tradition teaches that “ All Israel is responsible for one another.’ We would say , ‘all humanity.’

 

-Hardening our hearts – imutz HaLev

-The words we have mouthed – bitui sfatayim

 

***

 

-Desecration of Your Name –khilul HaShem

-Insolence – azut metzakh

 

-Thoughtlessly – vli da’at

 

-Denial and falsehood – Kakhash u’kazav

-Selfish envy-Tzarut Ayin

 

-Abuse of power – khozek yad

-Running to do evil – ritzat reglayim le’ha’ra

 

-Drunken vision – shikur ayin

-Consciously or unconsciously – b’Zadon u’v'shgaga

-Defiling our lips – tum’at sfatayim

 

***

 

-Evil Inclination – Yetzer HaRa

 

-Double standards – Eifah v’eifah (Originally in the Torah referring to false weights and measures, the rabbis expanded the concept to refer to many forms of discrimination.)

-High handedly – yad ramah

 

-Plotting against our neighbors – tz’dayat raiah

 

-Knowingly or unknowingly- B’yodim u’v'lo yodim

-Weakness-Ozlat yad

 

-Entrapment – flilut

 

-Breach of trust – tzumet yad

-Disrespect shown to parents, teachers and children – zilzul l’horim v’morim (Original is only parents and teachers.)

 

-Distorted vision, seduced and blinded – shikur ayin

***

-Abuse of power – khozek yad

-Defiling our lips – tumat sfatayim

 

-Our words – siakh sfateinu

-Causeless hatred – sinat khinam. It is said that causeless (or baseless) hatred for the destruction of the Second Temple.

 

-Justifying – tziduk hadin

-Duplicitous denial of responsibility – kakhash u’kazav

 

***

-Desecration of Your Name –khilul HaShem

 

-Scoffing – latzon

 

-Casting off the yoke – b’frikat ohl

 

-Cried out loud, raising our voices as a shofar (Adopted from Yom Kippur Morning Haftarah, Isaiah 58)

 

 

General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Is Hope Defensible? Rosh Hashana thoughts 5775 by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

1 Comment 23 September 2014

Is Hope Defensible?
Rosh HaShana Thoughts 5775

Arik2

Rabbi Arik Ascherman
President and Senior Rabbi
Rabbis for Human Rights

Last week members of RHR met with a US Council of Bishops’ peace mission on the last day of their visit. The bishops were quite depressed. When it was my turn to say something, I recounted some of the same stories and verses that many of you who have heard me speak or follow what I write are familiar with. I spoke of the fact that there is a solid majority of Israelis and Palestinians who want a negotiated agreement, but don’t believe the other side wants peace. However, this is the reason that a week before Egyptian President Sadat came to Jerusalem most Israelis were against the very same proposals they overwhelmingly supported when they understood that peace had became real. I quoted Tractate Kiddushin 40b’s teaching that we must see life as two perfectly balanced scales, and that a small, seemingly meaningless action on our part can tip the scales. I explained that, living here, I believe in the basic goodness of my fellow Israelis and of Palestinians, and spoke of the Elul/High Holy Days message that people can change for the better. If I had time, there are so many additional midrashim you know that I love: God sowing the seeds of  the Messiah as Joseph is sold into slavery, jumping into the sea before it parts…

Yet, I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised at how the bishops felt. There are a lot of depressed people in Israel and Palestine today, and with good reason. We are in the aftermath of a war in which the only winner was the Malakh HaMavet (Angel of Death). The war’s expenses are also being used as an additional excuse not to fund the recommendations of the Alaluf Committee on Fighting Poverty, recommendations that RHR fought so hard to achieve. Prime Minister Netanyahu is now the radical left winger of his party, being attacked from within and from without for having not allowed the army to “finish the job” in Gaza. Palestinian support for previously languishing Hamas is soaring as a result of the war. While claiming that the war has opened new possibilities for peace, the government has announced a massive land seizure and avoided talks on a permanent cease fire…

It is not just this year. Over a period of years I have noticed that it is more and more difficult to recruit volunteers, and I believe that is because many have given up hope that an investment of their time makes a difference. I am aware that many of my High Holiday messages and other communications in recent years have been defending hope.

Influenced as I also have been by this summer’s carnage, I didn’t realize that I too had lost sight of our successes this year. When I sat down to write our Rosh HaShana funding appeal, I was surprised to see how much we accomplished this year. We turned around the Alaluf Committee, helped freeze the Begin/Prawer Negev Bedouin Bill, convinced the army to teach a curriculum we wrote, obtained a resounding statement by the Israeli High Court that discriminatory planning leading to the demolition of Palestinian homes is unacceptable, and made public housing one of the most talked about subjects in the Knesset… As I write, I have just received the news that our High Court has ordered that the “open” facility essentially imprisoning asylum seekers must be closed. While RHR wasn’t one of the appellants, the decision allows me a different perspective on the night I was pepper sprayed and attacked simply for standing with the asylum seekers who had fled that accursed facility.

Thinking of the incongruity of celebrating achievements in the shadow of war, I am reminded of the joke, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” On the other hand, I know that each of these successes points to what is possible.

So, is hope defensible? When I talk about the power for change inherent in the High Holy Days and the promise of a new year, is Ascherman just putting on his rose colored glasses again?

Can we be so audacious, as to hope, and does that hope have anything to do with the High Holy Days?

As already explained above, I believe there are objective reasons and historical precedents that give hope. For that matter, it is no coincidence that our national anthem is HaTikva, The Hope. Without the ability to see beyond the current reality and truly believe in the possibility that a different and better reality was in the offing, the Jewish people would have disappeared after losing independence almost 2000 years ago, and there would be no State of Israel today.

Secondly, I believe in the power of “restart.” When I, and/or people around me, become stuck in a negative pattern, I will ask if we can do a “restart.” This is an artificial concept, but often it works, just like rebooting our computers can sometimes get them working on the right track again. We make a huge change for the better through the very ability to step outside the negative dynamics that have developed in our relationships and say, “Now I am making a conscious choice to recognize that I am caught up in something unhealthy and want to make a clean start”

There needs to be an act of will on our part, and that act of will could take place at any day, at any time. However, it helps when somebody or something outside us gives us a push, and when we are reinforced and supported by the “collective effervescence” (Emile Durkheim) that occurs when everybody around us is engaged in the same process. Rosh HaShana is our reminder that fresh starts are possible, telling us “the restart begins today.” We can break with patterns of the past, just as in the Torah reading for the second day of Rosh HaShana, God teaches Abraham to break with customs of child sacrifice. Recalling the creation of the world reconnects us with the vision of the world as God intended, and to which we aspire. Yom Kippur, just nine days after Rosh HaShana gives us a target date for doing what is necessary to take concrete steps to make the restart more than just words. If we are taught that “Itzumo shel yom,” (the very essence of the day) gives Yom Kippur the power to cleanse and effect pardon, part of that essence is the power of so many people collectively restarting.

For me, a discussion of the historical basis for hope and the psychology of hope is not complete without a discussion of faith. We pray in the High Holy Day Amidah prayer, “Give hope to those who seek you,” and shortly after told that this will come about. In the Haftarah for the second day, Jeremiah tells us in the name of God that, “There is a reward for your work” (Jeremiah 31:16) and, “There is hope for your future.” (Jeremiah 31:17). On the first day there is more than just promises. Hagar and Ishmael are saved, and the prayer of Hannah is answered. All year around we pray “Mi Khamokha,” in which remembering our redemption on the shores of the sea allow us to believe that future redemption is possible.

Faith is the belief that the arc of history is ultimately moving towards God’s dream for the world. Whatever we will merit to see in our lifetime, we are a part of God’s tapestry, “You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from doing your part” (Pirkei Avot).

I concluded my remarks to the Catholic bishops by reminding them that we had a special responsibility as religious leaders to do our part. But, responsibility for the world whose birth we celebrate on Rosh HaShana is not limited to religious leaders alone. Faith entails obligation because it reminds us that all the renewal and healing and fresh starts and new possibilities that we believe are possible in the New Year will only happen when we fulfill the roles that God has ordained for us, even though our attempts to know what those roles might be are also a matter of faith.

I admit that I generally do not pray all of the traditional preliminary prayers of the morning service. However, from Rosh Khodesh Elul (the month preceding Rosh HaShana) through Hoshanah Rabah (The seventh day of Sukkot), I recite the prayer, “Not because of our righteousness do we supplicate You.”  The conclusion is “ashreinu,” we are blessed because we are obligated to “thank and praise and bless and sanctify.” It occurs to me that we are also blessed because we are commanded to serve and carry out our task and do our part to bring closer to reality the promise of creation.

It is for that reason that every year I bless our staff with the hope that in the New Year they will enjoy the satisfaction and rewards of long days and nights that bring results. I share that blessing with you.

Wishing You a Blessed and Sweet and truly renewing New Year,

Arik

P.S Those of you who are on our “regular mail” mailing list will shortly receive shortened camera ready versions of RHR’s annual Yom Kippur vidui (confession) and Sukkot assif (celebration of Israel’s spiritual harvest). The full downloadable vidui will be posted on the RHR website on Sunday, September 28th. The assif will be posted on Sunday, October 5th. We will also be posting ushpizin (Sukkah guests) posters with original artwork welcoming those in need of shelter into our sukkas and into our hearts.

P.S.S. Please contact Sara Zur, rhr.sara@gmail.com, about bringing an RHR speaker to your community. I am planning on being in England for Limmud and for the first week of January 2015, and in North America in May 2015

shanatovacard

Shana tova!

 

Education, General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Legal Work, Occupied Territories

“Come as Far as you Can”: RHR’s High Holiday Appeal

1 Comment 22 September 2014

An appeal by Rabbis for Human Rights Co-chairs Rabbi Amy Klein, and Rabbi Moshe Yehudai, and Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president and senior rabbi for RHR, on the upcoming High Holidays. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

Watering trees in Anata: A volunteer gives her impressions

No Comments 09 September 2014

On Friday, September 5th, Rabbi Arik Ascherman and Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann took a group of volunteers to assist a farmer in watering his trees in the Palestinian village of Anata. Although the group was concerned that they would be given a hard time by local extremists, it ended up being a quiet morning. One of the volunteers shares her impressions of the day.  Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories, Reflections from RHR Rabbis & Staff

On Rosh Khodesh & the Ceasefire: A meditation to open ourselves to the power of Elul

No Comments 26 August 2014

On Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26th and 27th,  we mark the new Jewish month of Elul, a month set apart from the others as a time of deep soul searching and repentance in preparation for the upcoming Jewish High Holidays. The marking of the new month, referred to as Rosh Khodesh Elul, this year has coincided with the announcing of a new ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel, effectively (hopefully) ending  Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.  Continue Reading

General

His memory is most definitely a blessing: Rabbi Ascherman on the passing of Leonard Fein z”l

1 Comment 18 August 2014

Last week, Leonard Fein z”l passed away at eighty years old. Leonard was a great Jewish American thinker, doer and writer whose influence on progressive Judaism will echo for years and years to come.  Rabbi Ascherman, president and senior rabbi of RHR, remembers him as a supportive, insightful and inspiring influence: Continue Reading

General, Parasha / E-Letter

Weekly parasha: Examining the Birkat Hamazon

No Comments 13 August 2014

In this week’s parasha, Rabbi Dalia Marx breaks down the Birkat Hamazon (grace said after meals), and shows us how hidden within the prayer is an important lesson on moderation and respect. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

Why we oppose Capital Punishment

No Comments 07 August 2014

Capital punishment during peacetime was abolished by Israel in 1954. However, the use of the death penalty remains an option for particular crimes including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and treason. Military Courts in the territories also have the option of its use. However,  historically the courts are very hesitant to utilize capital punishment and there has not been an execution in Israel since Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi,  in 1962, and before that, there was only one other execution for a man (falsely) accused of treason in 1948. Continue Reading

General, Reflections from RHR Rabbis & Staff

TISHA B’AV THOUGHTS IN A TIME OF WAR, by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

1 Comment 05 August 2014

by: Rabbi Arik Ascherman

“From above God sent a fire

Down into my bones
God spread a net for my feet,
God hurled me backward
God has left me forlorn.
In constant misery” (Lamentations 1:13)

Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Urgent letter: Cellular warning service not available in Bedouin communities

No Comments 30 July 2014

Yesterday (July 29th 2014), Rabbis for Human Rights and other organizations promoting rights for Bedouins in the Negev sent an urgent letter to the Home Front Command, protesting that the cellular rocket fire warning service is not available in unrecognized Bedouin communities.

The disturbing situation in which communities lack both protected areas and sirens  is difficult to remedy in the immediate future, but it seems that the absence of a cellular warning is an easier matter to fix. Therefore,  it’s all the more puzzling to us that the system is not programmed to provide warnings to citizens of these communities. “Disputes over planning issues are no reason to disregard human life,” argue the signatories to the letter: Rabbis for Human Rights, the Forum for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, and AJEEC-NISPED. Continue Reading

Join Us »

Share Online

© 2014 Rabbis for Human Rights. Powered by WordPress.