Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Israel human rights activist to visit Troy, Ann Arbor and Lansing.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s spring speaking tour will feature talks in Troy, Ann Arbor and Lansing May 1-3. During his last visit in November 2014, then in his 21st year as leader of Rabbis for Human Rights, he inspired listeners as he discussed his work and highlighted progress as well as challenges.

As the community prepares to observe Israel’s 70th birthday, Ascherman’s message will provide a reminder of the importance of committing to understanding and discussing critical issues of human rights.

Last September, Ascherman founded a new Israeli human rights organization, Torat Tzedek or “Torah of Justice.”

On his speaking tour last fall, the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame described the new organization this way: “Its goals are to strive for a society that honors God’s image in every human being … and that protecting human rights and taking concrete action … is a human and religious obligation in general and, in particular, a Jewish religious obligation.”

The group also noted that “Ascherman serves as a role model, demonstrating that it is both possible and obligatory for a religious Jew to work for universal human rights and uphold international law, based on the Jewish tradition.”

Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Ascherman’s own description of the mandate for Torat Tzedek is as follows: “My 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.

“On principle, I have always believed, that in the human rights field, we must have ‘One foot in the grassroots and the other among the decision and opinion makers.’ I have never been somebody who just sat in an office.

“Our greatest successes have been the result of fieldwork that gave us the knowledge and the moral voice when we went to court, the Knesset, the international community and/or the press.”

He continued, “I have faith in the eventual triumph of justice, human rights and our highest Jewish values in Israel. Our work is about expressing that faith through action.”

Ascherman’s Schedule

There are three days to hear Ascherman and to learn about Torat Tzedek.

  • Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m. “A Rabbinic View of Human Rights in Israel” at Congregation Shir Tikvah,3900 Northfield Parkway; Troy. Call (248) 649-4418 for more information.
  • Wednesday, May 2, at noon. A lunch and learn at Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard, Ann Arbor. Bring your own lunch; coffee and tea will be served. If you would like to attend, call (734)-665-4744.

At 6 p.m., there will be a fundraising dinner for Torat Tzedek at the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center, 2935 Birch Hollow, catered by Karan Balmer. If you are interested in attending, contact Harvey at harveysomers@gmail.com or Martha at mkransdo@umich.edu.

At 7:30 p.m., there will be a community open talk: “A Rabbinic View of Human Rights in Israel” at the Ann Arbor JCC. Everyone is welcome. Light refreshments will be served. Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner from Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Rabbi Rob Dobrusin from Beth Israel Congregation, Rabbi Elliot Ginsberg from Pardes Hannah, Rabbi Josh Whinston from Temple Beth Emeth and Madrikha Julie Gales, the spiritual leader at Jewish Cultural Society, all plan to join in welcoming Ascherman. Co-sponsors for the events at the JCC are Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Beth Israel Congregation’s Social Action Committee, Jewish Cultural Society, Pardes Hannah and Temple Beth Emeth.

  • Thursday, May 3, at noon there will be a lunch and learn at Congregation Kehillat Israel, 2014 Forest Road, Lansing. Bring your own lunch; coffee and tea will be served. Call(517) 882-0049 if you plan to attend.

From 5-7 p.m., there will be an open house at Beth Israel Congregation’s “2010” Garfinkel-Schteingart Activities Building, 2010 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor (next to the BIC Main Building). Everyone is welcome. Light refreshments will be served. If you are interested in attending, contact Harvey or Martha for more information.

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