Human Rights Shabbat 2023 Statement

8 Dec, 2023 | Latest

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Today, December 10th is International Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this day, our namesake Monsieur Cassin stood before the newly constituted United Nations General Assembly and announced: 

Something new has entered the world…the first documet about moral value adopted by an assembly of the human community

Monsieur Cassin

It was a striking statement about a remarkable document. 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

For the first time, humankind had agreed on a code of ethical behaviour. The Declaration was conceived and agreed as an explicit response to the horrors of the Holocaust, its preamble noting that “… disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. 

It was a global commitment that such atrocities would never be allowed to happen again. It proclaimed that “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” is the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. 

Today, 75 years after Cassin’s famous words, the Universal Declaration is no longer new. But it is no less significant. It reminds us of the vital importance of treating each other with compassion, fairness, and respect. Of the government’s responsibility to ensure policies are designed on the principles of human rights and the rule of law. It serves as the moral compass to ensure freedom, equality, and peace.   

The Declaration was a new beginning and has inspired countless human rights treaties around the world – not least those that guarantee our freedoms here in the UK today – the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act, and their significance for ensuring basic freedoms and safety for all peoples and groups. 

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

It has inspired a commitment to eliminate violence against women. Today, as we mark the end of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, it is disheartening to note the lack of progress, especially where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war affecting millions of women.   


On these days, Jewish people all over the world are lighting the fourth candle of Hanukkah rejoicing our freedom from persecution.

The Hanukkah candles will bring with them light just as, 75 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought with it a bright new dawn after the darkest of nights and has inspired a new vision of hope, freedom, and peace.  

May all our lights shine brightly together. Happy Human Rights Day! 

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