Temple Beth Am, a Reform congregation in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, is bringing Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, for a weekend of learning, May 4-6, 2001.
Ascherman will speak at services on Friday night, May 4, at 8 p.m. His topic will be “Rabbis for Human Rights: Striving for Holiness in the Holy Land.” On Saturday, May 5, Ascherman will speak at Congregation Beth Shalom from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. following Minchah services. His talk will be during the Seudah Sh’lisheet (third meal). His topic: “Is There Any Hope? A Firsthand Account of Israeli/Palestinian Cooperation.” On Sunday morning, May 6, at 9:45 a.m., Asherman will be the guest at Temple Beth Am’s Sunday Foum. His topic will be “A Rabbinic View of Human Rights During the Intifada.”
Ascherman was born in Erie, Penn. He graduated from Harvard University in 1981 and from 1981 to 1983 worked for Interns For Peace, a community work program in which Israeli Jews and Arabs as well as Jews from around the world work together to bring Israeli Jews and Arabs together in positive interaction. For most of this time, Ascherman lived in the Israeli Arab village of Tamra.
Ascherman was ordained by HUC–JIR in New York in 1989. During his rabbinical training, he took a leave of absence to return to Israel, where he studied in the Schwartz Program for community center directors at Hebrew University. During his rabbinic school years, Ascherman was also instrumental in setting up a student/faculty-run soup kitchen and was active in homeless shelters and advocacy for the homeless. After ordination, Ascherman spend two years as the director of UC Davis Hillel, and three years as the rabbi of Beth Hillel in Richmond, Calif., where he also set up a homeless shelter that rotated between churches and synagogues.
In 1991, Ascherman and his wife, Rabbi Einat Ramon, spent two weeks in the former Soviet Union working with nascent liberal congregations and schools. After returning to Israel in 1994, he served for three years as the director of Congregation Mevakshei Derech, and three years as the part time rabbi of Kibbutz Yahel, a Reform kibbutz near Eilat. Beginning in 1995, Ascherman served as co-director of Rabbis for Human Rights, becoming executive director in 1998.
Ascherman and Rabbis for Human Rights in coalition with other Israeli peace groups have been involved in direct acts of support to Palestinian villagers who have been facing circumstances of curfew and economic blockades and has been arrested for these acts of civil disobedience. Ascherman’s wife, Rabbi Einat Ramon, is the first Israeli-born woman to be ordained as a rabbi. To date, they are Israel’s only rabbinic couple.
This weekend is being organized in collaboration with Pursue the Peace. For more information and a complete schedule, call 206-525-0915.