Reconstructionists honor Rabbis for Human Rights leader

(JTA) — Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, was honored by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Ascherman received the Keter Shem Tov award, given to an individual in recognition of distinction in scholarship or community service in pursuit of Reconstructionist ideals, at the college’s graduation ceremonies Thursday in Wyncote, Pa.

Ascherman’s Jerusalem-based organization played a major role in the 2006 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that Israeli security forces must do more to protect Palestinian farmers, ensure that they are able to plant and harvest safely, and live more securely in their homes. The group has created programs that educate Israelis about Judaism and human rights and that promote social and economic justice for all Israeli citizens.

The Reconstructionist school’s president, Dan Ehrenkrantz, praised Ascherman as "a committed Zionist dedicated to fostering a moral Israel that lives up to Judaism’s core values," and as "the rabbi who pricks Israel’s conscience." In addition, Ehrenkrantz said, Ascherman’s personal presence and commitment to equality has succeeded in breaking down stereotypes, enabling meaningful dialogue between Arabs and Jews.

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