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Shomrei mishpat: protecting human rights

The Movement for Reform Judaism is committed to actively campaigning against all violations of human rights. We will continue to speak up for those who, through violence and inequality, are denied the ability to speak out about their suffering.

Over the years the Movement for Reform Judaism has been active, through its synagogues, rabbis and RSY-Netzer, in drawing the attention of the Jewish community and beyond to some of the worst cases of injustice, violence and inequality around the world, including in Darfur, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After the horrific experiences faced by the Jewish people, especially in the twentieth century, we very much take to heart the call of our Torah to ‘not stand idly by the blood of our neighbour’ (Leviticus 19:16). Most recently events across Europe and beyond show this is a vital time to focus on asylum seekers and refugees in Britain. As we see thousands of people fleeing conflict, violence and persecution, many Reform communities have started initiatives to provide support.

As a Movement we are committed to raising consciousness about the plight of those around the world who, day in day out, live in fear for their lives. We work with national and international organisations both within the Jewish community and society at large to make a real difference.

Several of our rabbis are involved with the work of Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), a pressure group comprised of rabbis from all streams of Judaism. RHR campaigns on issues of inequality within Israel and the Occupied Territories. Since its inception in 1988, it has championed the cause of the poor in Israel, supported the rights of Israel’s minorities and Palestinians, worked to stop the abuse of foreign workers, endeavoured to guarantee the upkeep of Israel’s public health care system, promoted the equal status of women, helped Ethiopian Jews, battled trafficking in women, and a great deal more.

 

Over the months and years ahead we will continue to lead the way on vital issues such as these because it is our duty as a Movement to help realise the prophetic vision of a time when there will be no more ‘oppression of the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, nor the shedding of innocent blood’ (Jeremiah 7:6).

‘Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world’ (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a).

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