Human rights

Human rights are a set of universal rights that all humans are entitled to regardless of their age, race, religion or gender.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published in 1948, and sets out the rights that all humans should be entitled to. Many countries have accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, where they have not been accepted, projects such as Amnesty International are working to campaign for these people whose human rights are not being met.

Some examples of human rights are:

  • the right to go to school
  • the right to be treated equally by the law
Scroll in front of scales. Text on the scroll reads Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Social justice

Social justice refers to creating an equal society where everyone is treated with fairness and has equal opportunities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an attempt to create social justice.

The aims of social justice are:

  • to close the gap between the opportunities of rich and poor families
  • to create opportunities for all, regardless of where they live, their upbringing and how much money they have


An example of someone who has stood up for social justice is the American Orthodox Jew, Rachel Kohl Finegold. She wanted the opportunity to become a rabbi, but Orthodox Jews are against the idea of women becoming rabbis, as it goes against their traditional beliefs, and of a woman's role to stay at home to rear children. Finegold, however, enrolled on a four-year course and was ordained instead as a Maharat, or a Jewish spiritual leader, rather than a rabbi. Now based in Montreal, she is the first female in Canada to have served as a member of the clergy for an Orthodox synagogue. She blogs about the importance of Orthodox Jews recognising and welcoming Jews from the gay community, and has also written for the journal of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA).

I just want to be a leader - that’s who I am... talking to a lot of older women of previous generations, I see that they had to really fight for the ability to open a Torah or learn Gemara and have women’s tefilla (prayer) groups, but no one ever told me no... A lot of women sound angry, but we have nothing to be angry about, and it’s important to realise that. We’re not trying making a statement by entering Jewish leadership, we’re just being who we are.Rachel Kohl Finegold