In a world where injustice is far too common, Human Rights Shabbat is an opportunity for reflection and celebration, a yom tov for human rights. Inspired by the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed on December 10, 1948, and nurtured by T’ruah, an organization of rabbis and other Jewish leaders who work tirelessly for human rights throughout the world, Human Rights Shabbat is observed by an ever-growing number of congregations.
On Friday, December 13th, at 7:30 p.m. in our worship space at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Upper Arlington, help us bring light to the darkness of a December Erev Shabbat. Join Jessica Shimberg, Bill Cohen, and members of the Little Minyan as we and hundreds of Jewish communities around the world to recognize the connections between Jewish values and human rights, and pledge to manifest the value of k’vod habriot/human dignity in our communities. We will explore links between fair trade principles, Jewish values, and universal human rights, and delve into the ways Jewish tradition, our history and values inspire us to continue to work for universal human dignity.
Human Rights Shabbat, promoted by T’ruah, has taken on special significance for Jessica Shimberg, student rabbi and spiritual leader of the Little Minyan, who has worked closely with T’ruah in their alliance with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to end human rights violations in the fields of Florida. She traveled to the tomato fields last year to learn, first hand, of the abuses that occur in the agricultural industry when corporate greed becomes pressure exerted on growers who squeeze those who manage the harvests and who, in turn, exploit farmworkers in the fields who pay the ultimate price with inhumane conditions, sub-poverty wages and, in extreme cases, slavery and other abuse.
As a result of Fair Food Program developed by the CIW with its allies, a code of conduct has been instituted that requires those in power to comply with basic worker rights, garnered in other industries nearly 100 years ago. Columbus has become a national focus because Wendy’s, headquartered here, is the only major fast food corporation yet to sign the Fair Food Agreement. This Monday, December 16th, Wendy’s will once again be invited by CIW and its allies to participate in the Fair Food Program which leverages corporate muscle to ensure just conditions in the fields of Florida.
Consider Pirkei Avot, in which Ben Zoma asks, “Who is honored?” The answer: one who is honored honors God’s creations, specifically, honors other human beings. The one who is honored honors and affirms human dignity in another.