Jason Kaufman, a high school student from Westchester, NY, has been volunteering in the ICCI office for the past few weeks, meeting with and interviewing individuals involved in various aspects of ICCI’s work. Here is his first interview, with Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, of Rabbis for Human Rights.
As part of my work for ICCI, I interviewed Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, who founded Congregation Kol HaNeshama, a Progressive Jewish community in Jerusalem, in 1985. Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman teaches at the Hebrew Union College and the Schechter Rabbinic Seminary. He has been a board member at the ICCI for a long time, and now represents Rabbis for Human Rights. He has a long-term commitment to interfaith dialogue and coexistence and is very involved in the Jonah group, which is a dialogue between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians.
Rabbis for Human Rights is a multidenominational group of rabbis. He described it as a “watchdog” organization to monitor human rights in Israel. Rabbi Weiman-Kelman is most specifically involved in fighting against home demolitions when they are unjustifiable. The group has also helped Palestinians with their harvesting of olives when tension with settlers prevents them from reaching their orchards. The group was also very successful in fighting against what is known as the “Wisconsin Project”, which made it very difficult for people on welfare to find employment. The group tries to work with Palestinians to highlight human rights abuses. Rabbi Weiman-Kelman explained that, when Rabbis of all denominations along with a Priest and an Imam take a stand for human rights in Israel, it makes a powerful statement.
Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman explained that ICCI supports grassroots interfaith and coexistence groups with a belief that, in the future, they will succeed in achieving peace. Even though he has “no rational basis,” Rabbi Weiman-Kelman is still hopeful for the future.