“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958
Part of René Cassin’s focus on bringing rights home is supporting awareness of issues and engagement with the rights that we enjoy. This is something that Jewish communities around the country welcome with enthusiasm. Rarely was this more the case than at our training session with the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade (JLGB).
Generously hosted at Finchley Progressive Synagogue, thirty JLGB volunteer group leaders joined us on Thursday 25 September for training on leading human rights education for their groups.
Even before the veggie meal the energy of the participating leaders was evident. In particular, the questions during Director Mia’s introduction on René Cassin’s work showed a curiosity and a keenness to link their Jewish tradition with human rights.
This curiosity was in continual evidence throughout the evening as the groups spilt into subgroups, facilitated by René Cassin staff and volunteers, tackling substantial human rights areas. We covered a wide range of topics and campaign areas including: the development of the human rights framework; the challenges facing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; and the life and work of Monsieur René Cassin. One of the most impressive aspects of the group was their willing to continue to question and delve deeper into the issues throughout a two-hour event on a weekday evening. This had the unfortunate side effect that we barrelled past the intended finish time.
However, the focus was not on teaching JLGB leaders about human rights but on providing them with the resources and tools to run human rights education in JLGB groups. René Cassin has a wide range of resources to support informal education on human rights, from access to briefing papers and creative materials to example sessions from across the Jewish community. This wealth of material was paired with the creativity and imagination of JLGB leaders who designed and debated the best way to relate modern day slavery to a young audience. Throughout the event we stressed the importance of a values-led approach and awareness of the importance of providing positive examples of change.
This event once again demonstrated the eagerness with which young Jewish educators embrace the opportunity to combine human rights and the Jewish tradition. Some leaders have already taken the material from the training to run sessions in their local group. We look forward to working with them in the future.
If you know a group interesting in training in human rights education within a Jewish context please get in touch [email protected]