The attack on Rabbi Ascherman – Reflections on the 20th Yahrzeit of Yitzhak Rabin

by Rabbi Colin Eimer

Imagine the scene. A rabbi in Israel is being attacked by a man wearing a balaclava and threatening him with a big and dangerous looking knife. They struggle and fall to the ground; the man has the rabbi in a stranglehold, still waving the knife, but incredibly not sticking it in. Eventually the man runs off. Given what’s been happening on the streets of Israel in recent weeks, you might be thinking that it’s not surely all that surprising.

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I Owe My Life to My Attacker

by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

It sounds strange. How can I say anything positive about a knife wielding violent and hate filled young man who has turned the sanctity of the Land of Israel into idolatry?  When one looks at this awful video of the attack filmed from afar by Rabbis For Human Rights’ field coordinator Zakariah Sadeh on October 23rd, one sees that he could have easily murdered me. He was on top of me, my back was exposed, and the knife was in his hand.  One can see him almost plunge the knife several times, but he doesn’t.

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Call on Ambassador Taub: Halt the demolition of Susiya

Dear Ambassador Taub

We are writing to you out of deep commitment to Israel and to Judaism.

The Torah teaches us that ‘the stranger who lives with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Vayikra 19:34).

Today, the Palestinian residents of Susiya face the imminent destruction of their village, the place they call home. This is scheduled to take place between now and August 3rd. The courts have ruled that 37 structures in the village are due for demolition because they were built without permits, despite the fact the land on which they stand belongs to the Palestinian villagers of Susiya.

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Susiya FAQs

Where is Susiya?

Susiya is a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. The majority of the village is in Area C which means it is under full Israeli control and any decisions about building and civilian infrastructure have to be dealt with by the Civil Administration which is a department of the IDF.

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A reflection on the current work of RHR

Sermon for Parashat Mattot

 “The tribes of Reuben and Gad approached Moses and the leadership saying ‘If we have found favour in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession; do not bring us over the Jordan.’  And Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: ‘Shall your brethren go to the war, and shall you sit here?” 32:5,6

This question asked by Moses of the two cattle owning tribes is one that resonates so poignantly today. “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall you sit here?”

We have been watching anxiously as Israel has been slipping once more into war. And as we obsess over the news feeds and the reporting, the analysis and the social media links, we wonder about what is our role? how could we sit here while our fellow Jews are at war?  And what is it that we should be doing?

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BFRHR proud to have supported the Bedouin of the Negev

One of the moments that I think that BFRHR can be most proud of in the last few years was our campaign against the Praver-Begin Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. This campaign ran from mid 2012 to the beginning of 2013 and was a great example of cross denominational cooperation, quick thinking, immediate action and coordinated multi-faceted response. The Bill proposed the resettlement of 30,000-40,000 Bedouin in the Negev which in effect would have been forcible eviction for this population.

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So too must we remember our promise: Passover thoughts 5774

As we prepare for the celebration of the Passover, the Jewish holiday marking the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian slavery and the beginning of their cohesion as a “people,” Rabbi Arik Ascherman, senior rabbi and president of RHR, shares his Passover thoughts on the holiday, the horrors of housing demolitions,  and RHR’s upcoming High Court date that could end them for good.

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RHR celebrates its 25th anniversary

At 7 pm on Sunday, 6 April 2014 (6 Nissan 5774), at the Jerusalem Botanical Garden Auditorium, Rabbis for Human Rights celebrated its 25th anniversary. The evening events included:

  • Tribute to the founders of RHR and introductions to staff and management
  • A Panel: “The Role of Judaism in the Struggle for Human Rights in Israel: Current Reality and Future Possibilities.  Moderator: RHR Co-Chair Moshe Yehudai; Special guest panelists:
    Rabbi Shmuel Reiner of the Orthodox Ma’aleh Gilboa Hesder Yeshiva, member of RHR
    Rabbi Na’amah Kelman, Dean of the Jerusalem campus HUC-JIR, the Reform movement’s rabbinical school in Israel, long term RHR member and current RHR Advisory Committee member. You can read more about her here.
    Dr. Meir Bouzaglo, Founder of “Tikkun,” a think tank dealing with social issues in Israel; Founder of “Mizrakh Shemesh,” which teaches the religious traditions of Jews from Arab /African countries
    Linda Gradstein, Bureau Chief, The Media Line and Contributor to NPR

The importance of supporting the work of Rabbis for Human Rights

Rabbis for Human Rights is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary – a landmark achievement for an organisation that draws support from Rabbis across the religious spectrum in Israel.  Rabbi Israel Newman (zecher tzaddik livrachah), an orthodox Rabbi from London who taught Talmud to progressive rabbinic students at Leo Baeck College and who then made Aliyah on his retirement, introduced many of us to the organisation with which he was deeply involved until his death.  Working to highlight human rights violations, educating the public and pressurising the State institutions to correct injustice both in Israel and in the Palestinian territories were some of the things for which he campaigned and worked.

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