Founded in 1988, Rabbis for Human Rights is the only rabbinic voice in Israel that is explicitly dedicated to human rights. Representing over 100 Israeli rabbis and rabbinical students from different streams of Judaism, they derive their authority from their Jewish tradition and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their mission is to inform the Israeli public about human rights violations, and to pressure the State institutions to redress these injustices. In a time in which a nationalist and isolationist understanding of Jewish tradition is heard frequently and loudly, Rabbis for Human Rights give expression to the traditional Jewish responsibility for the safety and welfare of the stranger, the different and the weak, the convert, the widow and the orphan.
RHR works primarily in the following areas where they think their rabbinic voice will be most effective:
Human rights work and agricultural access in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: RHR works year round with Palestinian farmers from over thirty villages in the West Bank to ensure they complete their agricultural tasks free of harassment or unjust limitations.
Human rights education: Every year, RHR teaches over 800 post-secondary and university students the importance of human rights in the Jewish tradition, inspiring them to act on these values during their military service and civil lives.
Social justice in Israel: RHR staff assist hundreds of individuals from diverse background each year to obtain their socio-economic rights. They also advocate for policy combating poverty & restoring dignity to their nation’s most economically vulnerable.
Legal protection in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Through legal intervention, they prevent or reverse the takeover of Palestinian lands by settlers, or unfair closures by the military. They also work in the H2 area of Hebron to safeguard the rights of the Palestinian residents.
Supporting Jahalin Bedouin children & communities: RHR has worked closely with the Jahalin Bedouin communities located on the outskirts of Jerusalem for two decades. In addition to advocating against their forced displacement, they provide summer and afterschool activities for over 200 children a year.
Interfaith work: RHR seeks to harness the teachings and values of their region’s faiths as a means of reconciliation & understanding. Activities include public panels, interfaith prayer & study, and interfaith activism combating hate crimes.