René Cassin honours the legacy of ‘Righteous Women’ on International Women’s Day 2020

8 Mar, 2020 | Latest, News, Press releases and statements, Women's Rights

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René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, strongly believes in the importance of learning from experience; we draw on our shared Jewish values and experience to advocate for human rights now.

Next month we will celebrate Passover, which recounts the story of Exodus, the story of the Israelites, enslaved by Pharaoh and consequently liberated by G-d.

The story of Exodus is a call to action; we are commanded to see ourselves as having personally lived through the story, to understand and inspire us to play a crucial role in liberating the oppressed.

It is written in the Babylonian Talmud that, “in the merit of righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt.” [1]

These righteous women were the first to resist the tyrannical rule of Pharaoh, women such as:Midwives Shifra and Puah who defied Pharaoh’s orders to kill all the Israelite baby boys; Miriam, who prophesised that her baby brother, Moses, would liberate the Israelites from slavery, and protected him from harm on his journey to safety; Batya, Pharaoh’s daughter, who knowingly rescued and raised Moses, an Israelite baby boy, despite her handmaidens’ warnings and father’s decree.

The righteous women in the story of Exodus were warned, they were given an explanation, nevertheless, they persisted.

It is women, like those who resisted in the story of Exodus, ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances, persistent and determined, who have led movements, fought for freedom and equality, offered sanctuary and security, and continue to stand strong in the face of adversity. Few of these women are acknowledged for their contributions, the legacy they have left us.

Mia Hasenson-Gross, executive director: “René Cassin’s vision is of a world bound by shared values, such as justice, freedom and equality, with women leading the way. By sharing stories of heroic women, we hope to empower others to continue in their tradition. In today’s world we are faced with new challenges that threaten our vision of the future. Nevertheless, we must persist”.

This year, René Cassin will celebrate the women of the book of Exodus, their untold stories, and the individuals who inspire us today, at our IWD2020 Women’s Seder, on 12 March 2020.


[1] Sotah, 11:b

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