Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice) is an Israeli human rights non-profit organization internationally recognized as a role model for faith-based activism.
The goals submitted to and approved by Israel’s NGO directorate are the following:
1. Torat Tzedek strives for a society that honors God’s Image in every human being, and for the human rights that this necessitates.
2. Torat Tzedek seeks to educate our society that honoring God’s image in every human being, protecting human rights and taking concrete action to further these goals is a human and religious obligation in general, and in particular a Jewish religious obligation.
On principle, Torat Tzedek works for the human rights of both Jews and non-Jews.
Torat Tzedek will not work on issues that are consensus, nor be a Don Quixote chasing windmills. We look for issues where our input, combined with the efforts of whoever else is working on a given issue, could possibly tip the scales.
Torat Tzedek was founded in September 2017 by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who led Rabbis for Human Rights for 21 years. Torat Tzedek capitalizes on Rabbi Ascherman’s experience as one of Israel’s most veteran human rights professionals in order to identify issues not being dealt with, and look for out-of-the-box solutions.
Rabbi Ascherman’s niche through the years has been to work for universal human rights as a Jewish religious obligation, and to present the foundation for this obligation in Jewish sources. Rather than remaining behind a desk, he has always believed that in the human rights field we must have one foot in the grass roots, and the other among the decision and opinion makers.” The greatest successes of the organizations he has worked with have been the result of field work that gave us knowledge and a moral voice when we went to the court, the Knesset, the public, the international community and/or the press. Where necessary, Rabbi Ascherman is willing to put his body on the line.
MEET OUR MEMBERS
Micha is a professional gardener and long time advocate for public housing and worker's rights. He has worked as a labor organizer, and serves on the steering committee for the public housing advocacy collective, "HaMa'abarah," for which Torat Tzedek is the fiscal sponsor. He is also a founding member and activist in Yesh Gvul, that advocates for conscientious objection and frequently accompanies Palestinian shepherds.
Professor Emeritus and Israel Prize winning indologist David Shulman was a founding member of Ta'ayush and long time activist in the South Hebron Hills. He has now extended his activism to the work of Torat Tzedek in the Jordan Valley. In addition to his scholarly books, he has written two books about his activism, "Dark Hope" and "Freedom and Despair Notes From the South Hebron Hills" Together with Margaret Olin, he has a photo essay blog, "Touching Photographs״
Dr. Yoav Silbert
Yoav taught philosophy of education in various Israeli universities and colleges. He and his wife Dalia have been dedicated volunteers working as human shields for Palestinian farmers. Yoav serves on the board of the Adam Institute, educating for peace, tolerance and coexistence, and a founding board member of the State Humanistic Education Network. Yoav writes, "I met Rabbi Ascherman when we was the executive director of Rabbis For Human Rights. Although I am an atheist, I came to appreciate his dedication to the humanistic principles of justice and fairness, as well as administration and organization. I wanted to be a partner in furthering of these goals in the framework of Torat Tzedek."
Sara is currently a geriatric social worker. She is a long time pillar of Congregation Kol HaNeshama, and created a special relationship between the synagogue and the residents of the Magen facility for developmentally disabled adults she previously worked with. She has been active with Women Wage Peace, Sara writes, "Many people are involved with so many worthwhile caused that need help, but I think that the Bedouin are so neglected-and it is easy even for the left to forget them. I am therefore pleased to be part of an NGO that is trying to support them, and prevent them from losing their homes, however humble they may be."
Dr. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi
Sidra is professor emerita of Comparative Literature at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been visiting professor at many universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe and has written widely on Hebrew and Jewish literature and culture. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Tikkun, History and Memory and Teoriya u-vikoret (Hebrew) and has written reviews and opinion pieces for The New Republic, Haaretz, Tikkun, Salmagundi and others. She hopes to coordinate intellectuals and activists who will write thoughtful pieces about the work orat Tzedek is involved with. She is a peace activist in Israel and when the First Intifada broke out she was one of the initiators of a dialogue group in Jerusalem with Palestinian residents of Beit Sahour, and of a daily protest against the Occupation that lasted for a year at a time of great turmoil but also of real hope. Sidra writes "I consider myself a foot soldier in the battle for peace. One of my most admired leaders is Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who always puts himself-often at great personal risk-at the forefront of efforts to better the lives of Palestinians and other people deprived of basic human and civil rights."
Dr. Daniel Rorlich
Daniel is a senior researcher in physics at Ben Gurion University. Daniel has been active in the Committee for International Freedom of Scientists and the Committee of Concerned Scientists. He was a participant in the Beit Sahour and Nablus dialogue groups, as well as the activities of Rabbis For Human Rights, and Oz veShalom-Netivot Shalom (The Orthodox Peace Movement). He is active in the social justice movement, Zazim. Daniel writes, "When I first met R. Arik Ascherman, I had been active in Israeli-Palestinian dialog and other peace activities for at least a year. He led an activity and, in my opinion, made basic mistakes. He must have felt my disapproval, because he asked me for criticism. Remarkably, he listened carefully to what I had to say. I watched him develop into an outstanding leader and negotiator, a person dedicated to human rights and mutual respect for all sides, honest and true to the cause of peace and nonviolence – “תוכו כברו” in the classic Hebrew phase: he says what he means, and vice versa. I am happy and proud to support his human rights activism."
Naomi is a clinical child psychologist. She worked to train mediators to improve the communication between teaches and Ethiopian parents, and also trained the staff in a center for Ethiopian children who had dropped out of school. She and her husband Avraham were long time volunteers as human shields for Palestinian farmers. Naomi says that her words when she returned to Germany after 70 years best describe why she is committed to human rights, and a part of Torat Tzedek, "Seventy years ago today, on the 23rd of April, 1945, the train stopped. I looked out and saw a soldier on a horse. I knew immediately that he had come to free us. What a relief, and how sad. My father had died two days earlier. He was buried in a mass grave in Langennaundorf in a grove next to the tracks. During that entire voyage we suffered, collapsed and many died from exhaustion, hunger and disease… How did we come to this?... One thing is clear. This crime was committed by human beings, here in this world, not by monsters from another world….Racism has always existed, and it exists today. The idea that your group is more worthy and the "other" is less, and therefore has no rights - this is the idea we must fight against. Always and in every place. Around us and also within. We must all see ourselves as responsible… The fact that the crimes that were committed by the Nazis were unprecedented and unique must not blind us to human rights violations around us today. We find ourselves sometimes as those with power, and sometimes as the weak. Sometimes we are the wealthy and sometimes the poor. We may be the victimizers or victims. We don't determine what group we were born into. But we can choose how to deal with the situations we find ourselves in. No matter what side find ourselves on, we can choose. We have responsibility towards others, to every human being. This includes our brothers and sisters, and also the enemy. Everybody… When we exercise that responsibility towards others we honor the memories of those who died."
Ruth El-Raz. Ruth is a psychotherapist. She has been active in "Psychoactive," an organization of psychiatrists and therapists who use there skills to build resiliency among victims of oppression and activists. She has been active in the Women's Coalition for Peace, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions,and Women in Black. Ruth says, "I am part of Torat Tzedek because I have a need to help end the Occupation."
Chairperson of Torat Tzedek. Since then I have been involved in many field activities and have submitted numerous High Court appeals. To name just a few of my involvements, I was a co-founder of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jewry and a former chairperson of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. I have been an activist on behalf of the Negev Bedouin and Israelis in need of public housing… In addition to chairing Torat Tzedek, I am coordinating our activities to stop Israeli arms sales to Mynamar and other rogue regimes. My goal has always been to make my home a better, more just and more moral place for the benefit of Israelis, all who dwell in our area and the entire world.