Friday, December 12, 2008

Human Rights Shabbat

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed 60 years ago this week. See it at At a time when so many are denied their basic rights as human beings, it is important not to let this anniversary slip past.

This Shabbat we’ll be exploring this seminal document in great depth at our Synaplex programs. See the full Synaplex schedule here. I’ll discuss it at our early session and then we’ll be having an interfaith dialogue and welcoming our new congressman-elect Jim Himes a little later on. Afternoon sessions will include discussions with Holocaust survivors, a session with David Rodwin, who worked with impoverished populations in Asia last year on behalf of the American Jewish World Service, and another opportunity seeking employment in these difficult economic times to receive networking assistance from a career counselor. Plus, we’ll have plenty of great food (eating is a human right!) time to schmooze, and it all will be topped off with a super Havdalah Unplugged.

The website of the Rabbis for Human Rights contains much material for this Human Rights Shabbat, including a study session, background material on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a human rights service. Read which communities are celebrating (you’ll see TBE listed there)

On the Israeli site for RHR, you’ll find two divrei Torah for this week’s portion:

Vayyishlah (Vayishlach or Vayishlah (וישלח Genesis 32:4–36:43) tells the story of Jacob’s reunion with Esau, the rape of Dinah and Jacob’s flight. In our Parsha we learn that when Jacob saw Esau coming with 400 men, he bowed to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, and kissed him, and they wept.

Esau and Jacob were reared in the most ideal household imaginable. Their earliest childhood memories were of life together with his illustrious grandfather Abraham, the paradigm of Human Rights, kindness and purity, who personally oversaw the education of his twin grandsons and gave them the foundations for a meaningful spiritual life. For more, see
Vayyishlah: Human Rights and Reconciliation between Brothers.

See also:
Vayyishlah: Pride and Innocence – about the rape of Dina.

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