A Meaningful Human Rights Shabbat with Kehillat Israel

This past Saturday, AARC made the journey to Congregation Kehillat Israel in Lansing to share in celebration of Human Rights Shabbat, an annual celebration initiated by T’ruah, a Rabbinic Organization advocating for human rights in North America, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The annual Human Rights Shabbat initiative is intended to educate Jewish Communities about the intersection between Jewish values and the values of International Human Rights. It is typically celebrated on the Shabbat closest to the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Kehillat Israel and AARC chose to focus their Human Rights Shabbat on bringing together children and families to learn and build community. Rabbi Michael Zimmerman and Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner led all of us in a beautiful Shabbat morning service that asked congregants, “What does the story of Isaac and Esau teach us about justice, forgiveness, and identity?”

Services were followed by a potluck lunch that featured not only delicious foods from both congregations, but also much enjoyable conversation between new friends and old. After lunch, Rabbi Ora led the adults in a conversation entitled, “Who Deserves Punishment? Considering ‘Goodness’ and ‘Badness’ through a Jewish Lens.” The thoughtful and stimulating conversation examined not only Jewish moral thought on crime and punishment, but also its relevance to current political policy on incarceration and the resulting reality in human terms.

Many thanks to everyone who attended last Saturday and special thanks to our hosts, Congregation Kehillat Israel, for including us in this Shabbat exploration of human rights.