General, Occupied Territories

Friday, October 31: Olive Harvest Day for International Students

No Comments 28 October 2014

RHR invites study abroad students to join us on Friday, October 31st 2014 for a special day of harvesting in the Occupied Territories!

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Additional information on the olive harvest

Additional information on volunteering for the harvest

Occupied Territories

Cows belonging to settlement sent to destroy Palestinian olive trees

No Comments 21 October 2014

Cows belonging to  settlers are sent to graze amid Palestinian olive trees in the  village of Aqraba in the Occupied Territories. Continue Reading

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

International Student Programs and Study Tour Dates – 5775 (2014-2015)

No Comments 14 October 2014

RABBINICAL, CANTORIAL, AND EDUCATION STUDENTS: Get involved and learn how Israel can truly embody  our highest Jewish values! Join us this year in any number of ways and study the profound connection between human rights and Judaism. RHR offers student tours, service opportunities, and internship possibilities in a range of areas focusing on everything from socio-economic justice in Israel and the Negev Bedouin to African asylum seekers.

NOTE: While these programs are specially geared towards international students in rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education fields, they are open to all.

Continue Reading

Occupied Territories

Mosque burned in early hours in Palestinian village Aqrabah

No Comments 14 October 2014

Palestinian residents of the village Aqrabah discovered that the mosque had been overnight (early Tuesday morning, October 14t 2014) in an apparent “price tag” attack.  The first floor of the mosque was burned, with damage done to the carpet, the walls and to copies of the Koran. Continue Reading

Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Olive Harvest in the Occupied Territories starts with a number of serious incidents

No Comments 07 October 2014

PRESS RELEASE | Oct 6th 2014

As the olive harvest begins, a number of serious incidents have been reported in the Occupied Territories. 

 Every fall, Rabbis for Human Rights brings hundreds of volunteers to work side-by-side with Palestinian farmers during our Olive Harvest campaign. Our presence provides protection against possible settler intimidation, enables farmers to pick within the limited number of days that they can safely do so, and has also become an act of solidarity between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the start of the harvest season was marred by a number of incidents of vandalism and destruction, some on land that farmers do not visit regularly during the year, so it is difficult to know when the destruction occurred. A few dozen mature olive trees were discovered cut down in Yasuf; most where cut at the bark of the tree, causing severe harm to the tree that we have not seen for some time.

Additionally, 15 trees were cut in Burin, along with a similar number in Aqrabah, along the Detroit Road where it was reported that settlers attempted to disrupt the harvest by expelling Palestinian farmers and giving orders to soldiers.

The legal proceeding from these acts are being handled by Yesh Din, who add that:

“It is important to note that even though the Israeli army has publicly committed to having its forces ready and reinforced in the run-up to the harvest, with special focus on well known friction zones, the severe damage that was reported today occurred exactly in the most predictable spots.”

Rabbis for Human Rights also adds that there is a Biblical prohibition against the destruction of fruit trees. We continue to work against this wasteful, hateful violence.

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RHR Field Worker Zakaria Sadah with DCO as they investigate trees cut down in Aqrabah

RHR Field Worker Zakaria Sadah with DCO as they investigate trees cut down in Aqrabah

More photos

For information on how to volunteer with RHR and assist Palestinian farmers safely harvest olives in the Occupied Territories click here.

Related media:

Dozens of olive trees destroyed in the West Bank in run-up to harvest, Ynet

General, Occupied Territories

JOIN US: RHR kicks off the olive harvest season of 5775

1 Comment 05 October 2014

START THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT!

Rabbis for Human Rights

is pleased to invite you to join us as we begin this year’s

OLIVE HARVEST

cc: wikimedia

 

During the intermediate days of Sukkot

and in the weeks that follow

Call: 02 6482757 or email yehielgreni@gmail.com

Every fall, Rabbis for Human Rights brings hundreds of volunteers to work side-by-side with Palestinian farmers during our Olive Harvest campaign. Our presence provides protection against possible settler intimidation, enables farmers to pick within the limited number of days that they can safely do so, and has also become an act of solidarity between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

If you would like to join us for a day of harvesting in the territories, please sign up by calling or emailing our office at info@rhr.israel.net or 02 648 2757. You can also email the director of RHR’s human rights activity in the Occupied Territories, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, at yehielgreni@gmail.com.

DEPARTURE: We will be leaving from Liberty Bell Gardens parking lot (Jerusalem) at 6:20 (actually the bus will leave at 6:30 precisely), with the possibility of a pick up at Binyanei HaUma (near the central bus station) at approx. 6:45 and a pick up at the Rosh HaAyin train station at 7:20am.

REGISTRATION: Registration at the office is until 16:30 the day before. Those wanting to go out on Sundays must register by 16:30 on Thursdays. If you have not registered on time you are not assured a place on the bus or being informed of last minute changes, cancellations, etc. Registration on time might sometimes impact on the decision to go out at all, if there are not enough volunteers. Our volunteers are invited to contribute to the cost of the bus according to their ability and generosity.
A NOTE ON SECURITY: We will not publish names of the places (all in area C) we are going to because of security concerns and the need for flexibility in our work.  We are in contact with 50 villages.

In general, we will be working in places with scheduled army protection (this is for the Palestinians and settlers, not for us!) but not always. We would like to know who is and is not willing to pick in such places.

PLEASE BRING: All the volunteers are requested to bring valid current identification (identity card, passport, driving license), food for the day, water, work clothes (and to be sensitive to traditional Muslim dress code for women) closed shoes, and protection from the sun.

Wishing you all a Hag Sameach and a successful and peaceful olive harvest! We hope to see you in the field!

 

 

General, Justice in Israel, Legal Work, Occupied Territories, Parasha / E-Letter

Yom Kippur Thoughts 5775: Distinguishing between Masui and Ratsui

No Comments 03 October 2014

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Click here for RHR’s annual Yom Kippur vidui. The annual Assif Rukhani (Spiritual Harvest – The list of some of what is good and positive about Israel and Israelis, as well as some of RHR’s accomplishments in this past year) will be posted on our website (www.rhr.org.il/eng) on Sunday, along with beautiful ushpizin (Sukkah guests) posters featuring original artwork depicting some of those who we wish to welcome into our sukkah and into our hearts. Continue Reading

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

Occupied Territories

Israel settlers enter into S. Hebron Hills Palestinian village escorted by army

No Comments 21 September 2014

The following update comes from the Palestinian village At Tuwani comes from Operation Dove, an Italian NGO that focuses on the South Hebron Hills. Continue Reading

International Student Programs & Study Tour Dates 5775

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