For over 10 years we have been donating to Rabbis for Human Rights. This year, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories has received a lot of media attention.
Olive Tree planting
In February 2021 RHR carried out their regular olive Tree planting day in the West Bank. RHR has been engaging with the Palestinian olive farmers for nearly 20 years. RHR brings hundreds of volunteers to work together with Palestinian farmers in different parts of the west bank. They do this to show the Palestinian farmers support, peace building as well as to protect the human rights of the farmers. Extremist settlers often attack or harass the Palestinian farmers, volunteers witness this. Volunteers also help to plant the olive trees and harvest them as well as helping to provide farmers with safe access to the farmers own land. The tree planting day is held on Tu B’Shvat the new year of the trees. 150 volunteers joined in 2021 and travelled to the fields of Burin village where the olive trees had been damaged or destroyed. RHR collected funds to replace the trees. They were able to plan around 100 olive trees.
In April Rabbi Elhanan Miller joined RHR as the new director of the Occupied Territory Department. Rabbi Miller is an Orthodox Rabbi, he lives in Jerusalem and was head of Palestinian affairs desk at Times of Israel. He speaks and teaches Arabic.
Elhanan and Daniel are looking to create new project activities in the OPT.
- Ask Rabbis to go to the Northern Jordan Valley to accompany Palestinian Shepard’s.
- Create a program that provides an alternative to JNF for Jews and other overseas to plant trees in honour of various occasions.
- Create a donation fund to plant trees in Israel and the OPT in a number of different communities such as poor communities and Bedouin communities.
- Working on a new project cooperation with Arik Ascherman/ Torat Tzedek.
Community building and equality
In 2019 Rabbi Kobi Weiss started a community building project that matched one person who has advanced in their career and well roundedness with someone from a less fortunate poorer community. His idea was to introduce people from poorer communities to good role models to help them in all aspects of life. This mentorship or community match up connection program is still running and Kobi overseas its progress.
Education and spreading awareness to the next generation
In 2020 RHR was looking for an assistant for Nava. In 2021 RHR was able to find Rabbi Mori Lidar. Mori will look after project applications and follow up/monitoring and development. Nava and Mori worked with 7 branches of pre-military academies and taught them about RHR topics such as human rights and issues in Israel such as food security, poverty and settler violence during the pandemic. They also made students face moral issues and ask themselves moral questions, such as, the system may work for the majority but not the minority and what this means.
RHR Rabbi group
RHR was finally able to reach their goal of 100 Rabbi members. In January 2021 they started off with 85, they missed their goal of 100. Now they were able to get 125 paying Rabbi members. One of their Reformed Rabbi members was also elected to the Knesset. They have more Orthodox Rabbi members as well.
RHR held a conference about Arab-Jewish solidarity at the Knesset. This conference was held in partnership with NGO Abraham Initiative and New Israel Fund. More than 100 Rabbis and Rabbinical students joined this conference to ask the government to stop its attacks and actions against the Palestinians/Arab community is Israel.
RHR has been very busy and the recent spot light that this conflict is getting has resulted in more news letters to donors who have donated more. The recent last two newsletters generated a lot of individual donors. The increase in Rabbi membership to RHR is also extremely encouraging as they can tell their congregation about RHR. It is also great that they found two new staff members to replace those who have left or let go during the worst of the pandemic.
RHR has done a great job in 2021 and continues to fight for the human rights in Israel and the West bank.