T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights Annual Benefit

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, an organization led by rabbis from all streams of Judaism, will honor four human rights leaders at its annual benefit on Tuesday, March 25 at Affirmation Arts in Manhattan. The event will spotlight individuals who exemplify T'ruah's mission of bringing a Jewish moral voice to the most pressing human rights issues of our time.

Last year, acclaimed actress and activist, Cynthia Nixon hosted T’ruah’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, which honored Rabbi Everett Gendler, Rabbi Susan Talve and Thomas B. Wilner.  Before the event, Nixon was quoted in JTA, praising T’ruah: “It’s an amazing organization,” she said. “Too often we think of religiosity as being the territory of the right wing. We in the left wing are spiritual too and we shouldn’t cede that territory.”

This year T’ruah will present the first Lifetime Achievement Award to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a founding board member of T'ruah, and founder and director of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, PA, for his decades-long commitment to modern liberation struggles, including racial justice, environmental concerns, feminism, and the freedom of Tibet. T'ruah's Rabbinical Human Rights Hero Awards will be presented to Rabbi Kliel Rose of Beth Shalom in Alberta, Canada and Rabbi Dara Frimmer of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, CA, who were both nominated for this honor by dedicated members of their respective communities for their tireless dedication to human rights.

The Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award will be presented to Martina E. Vanden-berg, president and founder of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, for her continuous and tireless fight against human trafficking.

Rabbi Dara Frimmer (T’ruah Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award)

Rabbi Dara Frimmer graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Feminist Studies and Re-ligious Studies. Her senior honors thesis, Rosh Hodesh: A Celebration of Jewish Women, ex-plored the intersection of Judaism, gender and ritual through ancient and modern practices of celebrating the new moon. Following graduation, she spent at year in Israel volunteering with Project Otzma. She returned to complete a Masters in Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School before enrolling in rabbinic school at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Reli-gion. Dara studied at the HUC-JIR campus in New York City and worked for two years as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY. While in NYC, she completed her second unit of hospital chaplaincy, taught “Introduction to Judaism” through the 92nd Street Y, and led alternative spring break trips to Latin America with American Jewish World Service. She was ordained in May 2006 and stayed in Manhattan one additional year to work as the Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. As of 2009, she is a member of the Executive Planning Committee for the 2009 Hazon Jewish Food Conference and she serves on the Los Angeles Regional Council of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the board of Jumpstart.

Rabbi Kliel Rose (T’ruah Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award)

Rabbi Y. Kliel Rose was born in Jerusalem to a rabbinical family and grew up in Winnipeg, Can-ada. Kliel earned a BA in Judaic studies from Gratz College, in Philadelphia, after which he studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). As a student, Kliel served a number of con-gregations in New York and one community in London, England, under the auspices of Masorati Olami. As a senior rabbinical student, Kliel received the prestigious Rabbi Marshal T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellowship at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. He was ordained in 2005. Rabbi Rose served as Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Miami Beach, Florida for 3 years, then was the Spiritual Leader of West End Synagogue in Nashville, Tennessee, where he served for 5 years. Kliel’s community work includes service on The Nashville Board of Rabbis and on the advisory committee of St. Thomas Hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education program, Community Nashville (formerly the National Conference of Christians & Jews).

Martina E. Vandenberg (Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award)

Martina E. Vandenberg, an attorney, has spent nearly two decades fighting human trafficking, forced labor, rape as a war crime, and violence against women. Vandenberg has represented victims of human trafficking pro bono in immigration, criminal, and civil cases. Widely regarded as an expert on an array of human rights issues, she has testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the Helsinki Commission, the House Foreign Af-fairs Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee. A former Human Rights Watch re-searcher, she spearheaded investigations into human rights violations in the Russian Federa-tion, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Uzbekistan, Kosovo, Israel, and Ukraine, and authored the first published report documenting human trafficking in Israel. She is the author of two Human Rights Watch reports, “Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia & Her-zegovina for Forced Prostitution,” and “Kosovo: Rape as a Weapon of ‘Ethnic Cleansing.’” While living in the Russian Federation, she co-founded Syostri, one of Russia’s first rape crisis centers for women. Vandenberg established The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in 2012 with generous support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Fellowship Program. Before she became an OSF Fellow, Vandenberg was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP, where she focused on complex commercial litigation and internal investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. She served as a senior member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. She received the 2006 Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award for her successful representation of trafficking victims in United States federal courts and her advocacy before Congress.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow (T’ruah Lifetime Achievement Award)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph. D., founded (in 1983) and directs The Shalom Center , a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life that brings Jewish and other spiritual thought and practice to bear on seeking peace, pursuing justice, healing the earth, and celebrating community. He edits and writes for its weekly on-line Shalom Report. In 1996, Waskow was named by the United Nations a “Wisdom Keeper” among forty religious and intellectual leaders who met in connection with the Habitat II conference in Istanbul. In 2001, he was presented with the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award by the Jewish Peace Fellowship. In 2005, he was named by the Forward, the leading Jewish weekly in America, one of the "Forward Fifty" as a leader of the Jewish community. In 2007, he was named by Newsweek one of the fifty moist influential American rabbis, and was presented with awards and honors by groups as diverse as the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement of Philadelphia and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. Since 1969, Waskow has been one of the leading creators of theory, practice, and institutions for the movement for Jewish renewal. Among his seminal works in this area have been -- • The Freedom Seder (l969), the first Haggadah for Passover to intertwine the archetyp-al liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Mitzrayyim with the modern liberation struggles not only of the Jewish people, but also the Black community in America and other peoples. The Freedom Seder has become a model for many Jews during the past generation to shape Pass-over Seders to celebrate their own commitments to emerging aspects of liberation -- such as environmental concerns, feminism, and the freedom of Tibet.

Read full honoree bios here.

Pictures from the event here.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is an organization led by rabbis from all streams of Judaism that acts on the Jewish imperative to respect and protect the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we advocate for human rights in Israel and North America. T’ruah continues the historic work of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, which was founded in 2002 and renamed T’ruah in January 2013.