At Human Rights Shabbat, Their Aim Is T’ruah

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The Shabbat is an outgrowth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. It represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.

As racial and anti-Semitic tensions escalate from Minneapolis to Chicago, Israel to Paris, members of the Jewish community worldwide will explore the intersection of Jewish values and universal human rights as 150 synagogues participate in the eighth annual T’ruah: Human Rights Shabbat on Dec. 5. 
 
The Shabbat is an outgrowth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. It represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.
 
At Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in Roxborough, Rabbi Shawn Zevit will be joined by Rabbi Myriam Klotz, the director of Yoga and Embodied Practices for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality; the synagogue’s Kohenet, Shoshana Bricklin; and its Zayin/B’nai Mitzvah class as they discuss human rights and Judaism. Bricklin will chant a special Haftarah of the Declaration of Human Rights and Klotz and the Zayin class will help lead the service.
 
“We’re really trying to raise the issue of human rights, especially with the plight of the refugees in Syria,” Zevit said. “It’s really an opportunity to raise awareness for us.”
 
Combining this event with the beginning of Chanukah is meaningful because it allows people to celebrate the holiday and learn about giving back, Zevit added. 
 
“I’m very excited that we chose to observe Human Rights Shabbat the weekend before Chanukah,” the rabbi said. 
 
Other participating synagogues from Philadelphia include: Congregation Beth Israel in Lebanon, Pa.; Congregation Kol Emet in Yardley; Kesher Israel Congregation in West Chester; and Kol Tzedek in West Philadelphia. 
 
Four key components will be discussed during the service: solving the Israeli-Arab conflict in Hebron; funding for Israel; ending mass incarceration in the United States; and justice for farmworkers in the U.S. 
 
According to the T’ruah website, “Hebron is ‘ground zero’ of the occupation,” where the largest number of Palestinians have had their lives disrupted to protect the smallest number of Jews — roughly 800 ideological settlers. T’ruah is asking Jewish organizations, beginning with the Jewish National Fund, to commit to its “Moses Standard” — full transparency regarding whether donations support settlement construction. America incarcerates more people than any other country — with just 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. has 25 percent of all prisoners. T’ruah also supports the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program, which has brought 14 major corporations (like Walmart and McDonald’s) and 90 percent of Florida’s tomato growers into partnership with the workers to raise wages and guarantee human rights in the fields, which the coalitions calls “ground zero” for modern slavery. 
 
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, who is a member of Mishkan Shalom, on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a founding member of T’ruah, will be speaking at Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Ore., on the same day. 
 
Liebling said there is a connection between human rights and global warming and it is not a coincidence that Human Rights Shabbat is taking place at the same time as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. He noted global warming and climate change often affect the poorest parts of the world, depriving people of food and a safe place to live. 
 
“Human rights is fundamentally a Jewish issue,” Liebling told the Jewish Exponent during a phone interview. “Anytime we violate human rights, we violate the image of God.” 
 
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0747

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