Reflecting on Human Rights Day
“We must show by our behavior that we believe in equality and justice and that our religion teaches faith and love and charity to our fellow men. Here is where each of us has a job to do that must be done at home, because we can lose the battle on the soil of the United States just as surely as we can lose it in any one of the countries of the world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Human Rights Day was first commemorated on December 10, 1950, to celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on that day in 1948. To me, one person who symbolizes that hopeful and crucial moment in world history is Eleanor Roosevelt, the first United States Ambassador to the UN. I connect sincerely with her words: during my first few months at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), I have learned about translating my faith into action, and the depth of the impact of those actions.
As the community working on these issues grows, the term “human rights” seems more and more nebulous to me. Is everything we work on “human rights?” I guess so; I hope so. Looking at the whole picture, it’s easy to feel disheartened, but as Eleanor Roosevelt said, our behavior must demonstrate our dedication to equality, justice, love and charity to humankind.
On this Human Rights Day, I am encouraging you to take a look at the many social justice issues we work on at the RAC and reflect on how you can deepen your actions to improve the status quo. As a Reform Jew who working on civil liberties, I am taking this opportunity, my bully pulpit, to suggest lending your voice to the call to end torture.
Of the Reform Jewish community’s valued partners, the National Religious Campaign to End Torture (NRCAT), has prepared many resources related to Human Rights Day. NRCAT organizes the faith community to speak out against torture, adding a strong moral voice to the discussion.
- NRCAT’s Human Rights Day guide
- Human Rights Day toolkit
- No Doubt, It Was Torture (film)
- There’s Nothing…. About Torture (video series)
Torture, at any time, at any place, against any individual, is a travesty. From solitary confinement in prisons to the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, these important questions of civil liberties and human rights require the attention of the faith community to permanently end these practices. We must take hold of our responsibilities at home, and have our beliefs take to a place of higher justice and equality for all.