I first heard of René Cassin through Instagram, while I was looking for an appropriate work experience opportunity to earn twenty credits of the third year of my undergraduate degree. However, upon completion of my work experience, it became clear that those twenty credits had become less significant compared to the insight, knowledge and numerous skills I gained and developed during my time with the organisation.
Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, most organisations and students have adapted to communication through virtual means; whether using Zoom, Teams or one of the many other video-conferencing services. However, my first day at René Cassin left me surprised, as not only had every individual of the team created a friendly and welcoming environment despite only being able to communicate online, but my expectations were completely exceeded as I learned what kind of tasks I would be involved in over the following weeks. From my bedroom in Manchester I was regularly meeting with every member of staff, who took the time to give me in-depth explanations of their respective areas of research and campaigning. As well as writing blog posts, media tracking and other types of research, I was given a two-hour Canva lesson, during which I learned how to create informative or promotional material, and while I expected to be using my history and politics knowledge I was pleasantly surprised to be given the opportunity to use my creative skills. Indeed, I was made to feel that every single element of work I produced, whether it was creative or academic, was appreciated by the staff at René Cassin.
The passionate environment in meetings and team sessions excited and motivated me, as it was clear how dedicated René Cassin was in achieving its goal of social justice and the protection of human rights. I think a very effective way of illustrating the unique importance of René Cassin’s goal, as well as its existence as an organisation, is what took place following the People’s Uyghur Tribunal in London, in mid-September while I was completing my work experience. For over two years, René Cassin publicised the crisis of Uyghurs in China through social media and campaigning in order to mobilise the Jewish and general public to stand up against the genocide. René Cassin’s work is not purely based on encouraging the Jewish community to educate themselves on global injustices, but actively protects and ensures the human rights of those who are not able to protect themselves, both outside and inside the Jewish community.
René Cassin takes the issue of human rights and translates it into tangible opportunities, related to both religious and cultural Judaism, that can be undertaken by any type of Jew across our spectrum.
I will always think of my time with René Cassin with great fondness and appreciation, as this organisation has made me realise that though I am just one Jewish individual, human rights protection and promotion has an essential place in my future, intertwined with my faith, and I certainly have a place in the future of the protection and promotion of human rights too.