Every year, T’ruah honors several leaders for their commitment to and activism in advancing human rights. Our 2021 honorees will be presented with their awards at our virtual annual gala on May 26, 2021.

Rabbi Rachel Greengrass

Rabbi, Temple Beth Am, Pinecrest, Florida

Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award

Rabbi Rachel Greengrass was ordained from HUC-JIR in 2008. She holds several leadership roles in the Jewish community including chair of the CCAR Resolutions Committee, a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, CLI fellow, a Hartman Rabbinic Fellow, and is currently the President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.  

As part of her commitment to social justice and as a representative of RAC Florida, Rabbi Greengrass led a coalition of organizations that protested, lobbied, and educated about immigrant justice, eventually bringing Democratic Presidential hopefuls to bear witness to the largest detention center for immigrant children in the United States. This work resulted in shutting down the Homestead detention center, reuniting many of these children with their families.  

She co-created the Social Justice Teen Fellowship, an award-winning program, which takes teens through intense social justice training including education, advocacy, and direct service in Miami and abroad.  

Rabbi Greengrass is also a leader in RAC-FL where she worked towards voter enfranchisement. She first met her friend and partner in criminal justice reform work, Desmond Meade, in 2015. Along with the Religious Action Center and a broad coalition, she helped to bring his Florida Rights Restoration Campaign to the Jewish community. This will the right to vote to 1.4 million Floridians. 

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Rabbi Oren J. Hayon

Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu El, Houston, Texas

Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award

Rabbi Oren J. Hayon received his rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 2004. Since that time, he has held several leadership roles in the Jewish community, having served as a Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, a member of the Editorial Board of the Reform Jewish Quarterly, and as an editor, translator, and contributor of Hebrew texts and poetry for a number of books and journals.

Currently, he and his family make their home in Houston, Texas, where he serves as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Emanu El. In addition to his congregational work, he is involved in the leadership of numerous interfaith, academic, and social service organizations, and currently serves as chair of Refugee Services for Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, which operates one of the largest and most robust programs for resettling political refugees to the United States.

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Rabbi Lila Kagedan

Rabbi & Bioethicist, Brookline, MA

Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award 

Rabbi Lila Kagedan is a clinical ethicist and educator working in academic, pastoral and clinical settings. She holds degrees and certificates from Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The University of Toronto, Harvard University, The Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Massachusetts General Hospital and is a Shalom Hartman Institute rabbinic senior fellow and faculty member.

Lila was ordained in 2015 by Yeshivat Maharat where she became the first Orthodox woman to claim the title rabbi and served until recently as the rabbi of the Walnut Street Synagogue in Chelsea, MA. She is the director of biomedical ethics and a professor of bioethics in the faculty of medicine and dentistry of New York Medical College and is also a clinical ethicist and a chaplain in hospitals and hospice settings nationally and internationally. Rabbi Kagedan is deeply committed to justice work at the intersection of faith, inclusion, anti-racism, education, and health. She serves on the clergy interfaith coalition for the city of Chelsea, MA and serves as the co-chair of the disparities in health working group at the Cambridge Hospital. She is also on the inclusion committee addressing issues of social determinants of health and racial disparities of health at New York Medical College.

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Marc Elias

Founder, Democracy Docket & Chair, Perkins Coie Political Law Group

Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award

Marc Elias is a nationally recognized authority and expert in campaign finance, voting rights, redistricting law, and litigation. He is the founder of Democracy Docket and the Chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law Group. He represents the national Democratic Party, as well as dozens of U.S. senators, governors, representatives, campaigns, and other Democratic groups. 

In March 2020, Marc launched Democracy Docket—the leading platform for progressive advocacy and information about voting rights, elections, redistricting and democracy, which transformed the way millions of Americans cast their ballots and led to record voter enfranchisement in the 2020 election. During the 2020 election cycle Marc’s voting rights practice brought over 150 cases in 30 states, totaling over 120 victories in courtrooms around the country. Following Election Day, Marc led the charge for 67 post-election cases on behalf of the Democratic National Committee  and the Biden campaign, winning 64 victories against Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

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Meet previous years’ honorees here.