Global Justice Chavurah

AJWS’s Global Justice Chavurah is a learning and action circle for rabbis and cantors advocating for justice and human rights in the developing world.

We may not be able to travel in this unprecedented moment—but AJWS has created a new way to connect, learn and lead. The Global Justice Chavurah is an online travel opportunity to meet activists from across the world, learn leadership skills, and take action to support human rights in the developing world.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are offering workshops exclusively for clergy that bring together rabbinic and cantorial colleagues, AJWS staff experts, and our grantee-partners for insight into what transnational solidarity can look like. We will explore how this pandemic is exacerbating human rights challenges in the developing world and how activists are fighting for ethnic minorities and indigenous communities. We’ll learn how these activists are handling challenging economic and medical conditions, traumatized communities and autocratic leadership—and discover how these lessons can translate to our own communities.

Become a member of the global justice chavurah

While the global pandemic has forced us to retreat to our homes, we cannot limit our horizons. A global pandemic requires global perspective.

Register for our upcoming workshops below. New workshops will be added throughout 2022.

Contact Lilach Shafir with questions or to get involved.

Upcoming workshop:

Wednesday, February 9 – Global Justice Chavurah in Conversation with Ruth Messinger
9am PST / 12pm EST

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all for nearly two years—and we have all experienced massive shifts in the ways we gather, lead, daven and support, both within our own communities and beyond. Please join the Global Justice Chavurah community, your fellow rabbis and cantors as we take a moment for a conversation with our own Global Ambassador, Ruth Messinger. Ruth will speak on pressing topics such as leadership and moral courage, and how we as Jewish communal leaders can show up to support other communities at this time, both here in the United States and across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Register Here

Past workshops:

Global Justice Chavurah Members Assembly

Join your rabbinic colleagues for a members-only meeting of the Global Justice Chavurah. At this meeting you and your colleagues will connect with each other, learn together, and brainstorm future actions for the Chavurah. Join us to welcome new members and shape the future of clergy engagement at AJWS.

Climate Justice: Local Solutions to Global Problems

The fight for climate justice is a global problem that requires local solutions. Join activists from the AJWS-supported National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in Uganda to learn about how they are empowering communities to resist environmental degradation and advance food sovereignty. We will also discuss their work with grassroots organizations to build a women-led movement on climate, energy and food justice. 

Commemorating Genocide, Fighting for Rights

Join us for a ritual commemoration of victims of modern-day genocide, an update on where things stand now and an enlightening conversation with an AJWS grantee partner working to advocate on behalf of persecuted ethnic minorities.

Democratic Crisis in Haiti

Haiti is in crisis — but hopefully heading towards a tipping point. Exacerbated by a legacy of colonialism, racism and years of extractive economic policies, the situation in Haiti serves as a stark reminder of what can happen when democracy is eroded. Faced with a growing anti-corruption protest movement, the government has responded with repression, violence and criminalization, while tacitly supporting increased kidnapping and gang activity. The president has dismissed parliament and is pushing through a new constitution, while civil society contests the legitimacy of upcoming elections. And in the midst of these compounded crises, AJWS grantee organizations are fighting to save the democracy of their country.

Join us for a conversation with AJWS program officers, policy advisors and in-country staff to learn what’s happening in Haiti, how US policy can make a difference, and what your role can be in making that happen.

Gender and Jewish Communal Leadership – Hosted by Ruth Messinger

Join AJWS’s Global Ambassador Ruth Messinger and AJWS staff for a conversation among peers about the unique challenges women who are clergy face as leaders within the Jewish community. This session will be a facilitated space for women rabbis and cantors to share their experiences in synagogues and organizations and connect with colleagues to develop strategies and build power. This is a chance to come together around the issues that women rabbis and cantors experience. We encourage you to come whether or not you feel have something to share. This session will be 1.5 hours. Trigger warning: Possible descriptions of assault or abuse.

LGBTQI+ Rights with a Global Perspective

Sadly, more than 75 countries have enshrined hatred and bigotry into law, making homosexuality illegal—punishable by prison terms and, in some cases, death. AJWS supports social change organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean working to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, end discrimination, stop violence and combat hate crimes. In preparation for global pride celebrations, this workshop will feature AJWS grantee partners who are motivated by their own experiences to work toward changing the laws and the culture that discriminates against and dehumanizes LGBTQI+ people.

“Political but not Partisan” – Promoting Social Change within the Synagogue

In the face of escalating political polarization and threats to our democracy, clergy and community leaders have faced an increasing imperative to speak out on social and political issues. For some, drawing a line between the political (advancing policy and promoting social change) and the partisan (supporting a specific party or person) helps clergy navigate politically divided congregations and maintain both legal and moral safety. In this workshop, we will investigate how and why partisan identification has increased, and what that means for U.S. civic life. We will then explore the benefits and limitations of the “political but not partisan” framework.

The State of Violence: Activists and the Abuse of State Power

A conversation with AJWS Global Ambassador Ruth Messinger and Claudia Samayoa, a veteran activist on the frontlines of human rights in Guatemala.

Minority-led movement for justice. Troops in the streets. Activists criminalized on trumped up charges. What can the US learn from human rights defenders in Guatemala about fighting for structural change? How do marginalized people protect themselves and their communities from state violence? While the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and genocide manifest differently in our two countries, we have a lot to learn about law enforcement, resistance, state power and the power of protest from Latin American activists.

Acting with Moral Courage: A Two-Part Series
Part 1: Stories of Moral Courage from the Global South

Part 2: Clergy Leadership Workshop

The ability to act on your values in the face of risk — that’s ‘moral courage.’ It is a key leadership capacity in moments of challenge, exactly like the one we are facing right now. In this two-part series, join us to explore AJWS’s model of moral courage with our Global Ambassador Ruth Messinger, learn from activists in the Global South about how they act with moral courage, and workshop leadership challenges you may be facing in your own synagogue or organization.

Epidemics and Pandemics: Lessons from Ebola and AIDS

While the entire world faces a pandemic in 2020, many countries in the Global South and beyond have experienced society-transforming epidemics throughout the 20th century. In this workshop, you will learn from activist leaders who shepherded their communities through the Ebola epidemic in Libera and are now playing a key role in advocating for local community involvement their country’s COVID-19 response. We’ll review lessons learned in the fight against Ebola and discuss the challenges to implementing those lessons now. You’ll gain insight into how epidemics impact those most marginalized by society and hear how activists and community leaders can support the whole community in response.

Human Rights under the New Administration: A Post-Election Analysis

This year’s presidential election may be the most consequential ever — not only for life in the United States, but also for our country’s standing as a force for democracy and human rights around the world. Join AJWS’s Director of US Advocacy and AJWS policy advisors for a post-election analysis about what the election outcome means for global human rights and the international standing of the United States.

Human Rights and the Fight for Racial Justice

Building on the work of Drs. W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others, the Black Lives Matter movement has risen up to demand that Black people in the United States be allowed to live with dignity, security, equality and prosperity. These demands encompass the full sweep of human rights—and yet, that rhetoric is rarely invoked in the fight for racial justice in the United States. In this workshop, we will briefly trace the history of human rights claims within the longstanding movement for racial justice in this country, and then we will learn about concrete examples of the human rights dimensions of racial justice work from Rabbis Capers Funnye, Susan Talve, and Michael Rothbaum. Together we will explore how advocating for human rights can bolster the fight for racial justice in the U.S., and how our understanding of these issues in the U.S. might offer insights into human rights struggles abroad.

The Freedom to Make Choices: How Education and “Empowerment” Change Lives

What can “empowerment” do for girls and young women facing poverty, HIV, early marriage or teen pregnancy? For many girls in the Nyanza province of Kenya, completing school and freely choosing when to marry or have children are not givens. To address these challenges, Nyanza Initiative for Girls’ Education & Empowerment (NIGEE) works to build a society where girls and women have access to opportunities, become self-reliant and exercise their own agency and self-determination. NIGEE works with girls who have dropped out of school, helping them to complete schooling and vocational training. Join us for a conversation with NIGEE leadership to explore what “empowerment” looks like in practical terms, and how it changes lives.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Global Impact One Year Later

For so many of AJWS’s grantee organizations around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing social problems and introduced new challenges entirely. Repressive governments are using the pandemic as a pretext to limit freedom of movement, and gender-based and domestic violence is rising as people are confined to their homes, cut off from networks of support. In this workshop, marking the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic, will provide a broad overview of AJWS’s COVID-19 response work and hear from AJWS staff—based in the Global South and in the US – about how they are addressing the needs of our grantee partners generated by COVID-19 while pushing forward our core human rights work.