Greetings from Yerushalyim! I am have started my week at the Shalom Hartman Institute. But on my first night here I have had an opportunity to learn from Rabbi Arik Asherman. Rabbi Asherman heads, Rabbis for Human Rights. He is an incredible advocate for peace and justice here in Jerusalem. He spoke to a gathering of rabbis from the Northern California Board of Rabbis Israel trip that is here this week. I went over to greet my colleagues and visit with Rabbi Asherman.
He described the mood in Israel among those dedicated to peace and justice. He talked about the increasing erosion of democratic principles and the hatred of foreigners and Arabs that is rearing its ugly head in certain Orthodox and Charedi corners. He was talking about the outrage from many everyday Israelis at this turn of events and how they are shocked by the tenor of these discussions of hate in Knesset. Last Saturday night there was a huge demonstration in Tel Aviv against this kind of hate and discrimination against Arabs. Most specifically a demonstration against the letter signed by 350 Orthodox Rabbis that instructed Jews not to rent to Arabs. It is outrageous in a democratic state.
Rabbi Asherman stands for equality and democracy. He gives voice to those who have no voice. And isn’t afraid to stand against police actions when Arab homes are taken over. He has been arrested numerous times and will stand trial in February for his arrest crossing a police line in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan.
He is a light of hope. And he believes most wholeheartedly in the Jewish princple of “Betzelem Elohim”. – that all human beings were created in the Divine Image. Not just Jewish ones.
It was great to visit with him. And important to hear his observations.
Rabbi Asherman concluded with this. Israel needs us. And needs our commitment in the Diaspora to peace and justice. And Israel needs us to hold it accountable.
Thank you for your encouragement, leadership and vision Rabbi Asherman.