What T’ruah Means

The name T’ruah — one of the sounds of the shofar (ram’s horn) — calls us to take action to create a more just world and indicates our belief in the possibility of liberation.

Today, we associate the shofar primarily with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we sound it during synagogue services. The shofar wakes us up, demands that we examine our past behavior, and calls us to action.

In the Torah, the sound of the shofar also heralds the beginning of the Jubilee Year, when debts are forgiven and indentured servants go free. Shofar blasts also announce the beginning of the revelation at Mount Sinai. The shofar, then, symbolizes liberation, as well as the presence of the divine.

The T’ruah blast consists of nine staccato notes. This halting sound reminds us of the brokenness of the world, while also calling us to be partners with God in healing this brokenness.

Our tag line, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, speaks to our commitment to placing rabbis and cantors at the vanguard of the Jewish human rights movement. But our call—and our movement—is not for rabbis and cantors alone. Rather, we know that a powerful Jewish human rights movement must mobilize rabbis, cantors, rabbinical and cantorial students, educators, laypeople, and representatives of all parts of the Jewish community.

The word “rabbinic” also indicates that we ground our work deeply in Jewish text and tradition, including the writings of centuries of rabbis, our history, and our communal practices. Watch our video.

Our Logo

The shofar in our logo reflects our name and calls us to action. The shofar sits on a background of sketch marks. The unfinished look of this background symbolizes the unfinished state of the world and demands that we each do our part to complete it.

The purple of our logo combines the blue and white of the Israeli flag; the red, white, and blue of the American flag; and the red and white of the Canadian flag. We are Americans and Canadians with deep connections to Israel, and a commitment to making all three of the countries we love the most just, peaceful, and righteous places possible.

Our History

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights was founded in 2002 as Rabbis for Human Rights-North America (RHR-NA). From the beginning, we have mobilized a multi-denominational network of rabbis and Jewish communities to protect human rights in North America and Israel. We originally acted as a sister organization to the Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). In that capacity, we partnered with RHR on human rights campaigns in Israel and raised millions of dollars to support the RHR’s sacred work, even as we pursued our own campaigns on issues both in North America and in Israel and the occupied territories.

In January 2013, RHR-NA became T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, ending our formal affiliation and financial relationship with RHR. Our commitment to working equally in North America and in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories remains the same as always.

Since 2017, T’ruah has been holding the Trump Administration accountable, taking to the streets to protest the appointment of known white supremacist Steve Bannon, the Muslim Ban, and other abuses of power. We mobilized rabbis and Jewish communities across the country to speak out against the administration’s cruel policy of separating children of asylum seekers from their families and succeeded in shutting down Homestead detention center in Florida along with our partners. In Israel, we’ve fought creeping annexation and home demolitions; over 800 rabbis and cantors signed a letter opposing unilateral annexation of the West Bank and our student programs have shown future rabbis the consequences of perpetual occupation.

As COVID-19 created new challenges, we transitioned the bulk of our work online and have organized regular virtual actions and trainings for our chaverim. Whatever the future holds, we will continue to be a moral voice, insisting on the physical safety and dignity of every human being.