For this year’s Human Rights Shabbat, we are focusing on the theme of Genocide and asking the question:
‘How can the Jewish experience and principles inform the prevention of genocide today?’
Welcome to René Cassin’s Human Rights Shabbat Resource Pack for 5781 (2020). Human Rights Shabbat is always the closest Shabbat to 10 December, International Human Rights Day, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.
Our namesake, Monsieur René Cassin, co-drafted the Declaration and was one of many Jews involved in establishing a post-war framework to ensure the horror of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust would ‘never again’ be repeated.
The human rights set out in the Declaration were the first expression of a global commitment to a set of norms underpinned by values of justice, freedom and fairness.
The Declaration’s preamble spells out the urgent necessity of that commitment:
“Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind … Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”
However, ‘barbarous acts’ are not a thing of the past, and ‘never again’ has since happened again – In Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda – and is happening now to the Muslim Uyghurs in China, who are forced to deny their religion and culture in concentration camps set up by the Chinese Government.
As survivors of persecution – from the attempted genocide of Hannukah to the Holocaust – and as ‘speakers by experience’ who understand the need for empathy and solidarity, the Jewish community has a uniquely authoritative voice in speaking out against the persecution of others.
With genocides still happening today, and this year’s Human Rights Shabbat falling during Hannukah, this resource is designed as a source of knowledge and triggers for reflection to stimulate thought and explore our role in upholding the ‘never again’ legacy of human rights.
Download the Human Rights Shabbat Resource Pack