His Survival, My Commitment: Honoring my father on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Monte Dube is a member of the AJWS Board of Trustees. He joined the board in June 2011.

It hurts me when people suffer in the world. It feels personal.

Heshy Dube, late father of Monte Dube

My late father, Heshy Dube, was just a teenager when he last saw his parents and his older brother before they perished in the Holocaust.

My dad survived the destruction of the Jewish community in his small Slovakian town. He suffered starvation in forced labor camps and concentration camps. He washed himself in snow to stay clean and avoid being infected with typhus. He even hid in a pile of dead bodies to escape being discovered and killed.

So, yes, when I read about genocides looming on the horizon or hear about the persecution of minorities, it feels personal.

That’s why I serve on the Board of AJWS and why I’m reflecting today on my very Jewish reasons for fighting injustice worldwide and supporting human rights for all.

Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am honoring my father’s memory by recommitting to do all in my power to stop tyranny and persecution. And I’m asking you to take a moment today to reflect on what this anniversary means to you and how you are engaged in changing the world.

After the genocide of the Jews of Europe, the world swore, “Never again.” The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to help keep that promise. But securing human rights takes work and time. And today, in places like Burma, Uganda and Sudan, people are suffering ethnic cleansing, hate crimes and the most profound kinds of degradation.

As the son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor, I am speaking up with AJWS for these people the world has forgotten. 

Whether they are working on behalf of minorities persecuted for their ethnicity, LGBT people hated because of whom they love, or women raped en masse as a tactic of war, AJWS’s 530 grantees in 19 countries around the world are rising up to exercise and defend their human rights. They demonstrate that when people organize and take action, they can overcome hatred and bigotry.

Hershe Dube, left, the father of Monte Dube, right

Heshy Dube, left, father of Monte Dube, right

So on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I honor my father—who resisted genocide through his survival and throughout his traumatized life in his own resolute and loving way—by sharing his story with you.

With AJWS, I have committed myself to doing all I can to ensure that the darkest chapter in the history of my family and our people does not repeat itself in the lives of others. And I thank all of AJWS’s supporters and community for your own ongoing dedication to working with AJWS to create a truly just world.

Dube-Monte-1293-195x230Monte Dube is an attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP, where he heads their Chicago-based health care department and counsels non-profit and for-profit health care companies worldwide on business and regulatory issues. He previously practiced law at McDermott Will & Emery. Monte has served as a board member of Aitz Hayim: the Center for Jewish Living and the Solomon Schechter Day Schools of Metropolitan Chicago. Monte is originally from New York, but has lived in Chicago for the last 30 years with his wife Lori raising their three children. Monte joined the AJWS board of trustees in June 2011.


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#Faith2EndPoverty: Let’s end poverty by 2030

AJWS is joining the World Bank and more than 30 faith-based organizations to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Our President Ruth Messinger joined the World Bank and leaders from more than 30 faith-based organizations today to launch a major global campaign, #faith2endpoverty. It is our faith-based obligation to improve the lives of every man, woman, and child living in extreme poverty affected by this crisis. The #faith2endpoverty campaign includes a statement of Moral Imperatives that acknowledges our commitment to inspire others to join in this cause; reasserts the beliefs that unify the world’s major religions in massive efforts to combat extreme poverty; and attempts to galvanize greater action from within the world’s faith community. Simply put, we need to construct a new paradigm of socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth that eliminates extreme poverty.

“AJWS is deeply gratified to endorse the joint Moral Imperative statement because as an organization motivated by the Jewish commitment to justice, rooted in Jewish values and Jewish historical experience, we are committed to realizing human rights and ending extreme poverty in the developing world,” said Ruth Messinger.

World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim convened a diverse group of faith-based organizations and religious leaders to discuss the goal of ending extreme poverty, recognizing each group’s distinctive roles and strengths in this massive undertaking. Ruth Messinger has joined several interfaith leaders to build a statement of Moral Imperatives to end extreme poverty. You can join our fight to end poverty by 2030 by joining the #faith2endpoverty conversation on social media and spreading the word to your family, friends, and colleagues.

Together, we can end extreme poverty by 2030.

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Ruth Messinger speaks on keynote panel at Georgetown University

On March 4, 2015, AJWS president Ruth Messinger joined a panel of distinguished guests, including Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Katherine Marshall of World Faiths Development Dialogue, who each spoke about the relationship between religious proselytism and development at a forum hosted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

Read the coverage of this event in The Washington Post.

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Essy of Kenya on #Quorum: Global LGBT Voices

Originally published by Quorum, a project of The Daily Beast.

On Human Rights Day in December 2014, activists from around the world gathered at The Daily Beast’s “#Quorum: Global LGBT Voices” to share their struggles and achievements in working for LGBT rights worldwide. Essy, a Kenyan activist who works for AJWS grantee Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved (PEMA Kenya), shared her story about her work fighting for the rights of LGBT people in Kenya. Watch her speak with AJWS President Ruth Messinger from behind a screen, to help protect her privacy and her ability to continue her work for LGBT human rights.

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Passover

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”1 In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.

There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she prophesied… “my mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel.” When [Moses] was born the whole house… filled with light[.] [Miriam’s] father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, “My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.” But when they threw [Moses] into the river her father tapped her on the head saying, “Daughter, where is your prophecy?” So it is written, “And [Miriam] stood afar off to know what would be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2

Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3

But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

1 Genesis 1:2
2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a
3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b

RBGBlogRuth Bader Ginsburg is a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993, she is known as a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers, and separation between church and state.




RabbiHolzblattBlogRabbi Lauren Holtzblatt is a rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.. She is co-creator of two nationally recognized community engagement projects—MakomDC and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington.




This essay is part of American Jewish World Service’s Chag v’Chesed (“Celebration and Compassion”) series. Written by prominent leaders, Chag v’Chesed draws on teachings from the holidays to inform our thinking about Judaism and social justice. AJWS is committed to a pluralistic view of Judaism and honors a broad spectrum of interpretation of our texts and traditions. The statements made and views expressed in this commentary are solely the responsibility of the author. To subscribe to Chag v’Chesed, please visit http://www.ajws.org/cvc.

Download a PDF of this post.

View all of AJWS’s Passover Resources at http://ajws.org/passover2015.

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Meet the 2015 AJWS NYC Half Marathon Team!

On Sunday, March 15th, AJWS’s first-ever NYC Half Marathon Team will race through Manhattan on a run for global justice! Through tireless training and dedication, our team has raised more than $7,000 for AJWS’s work in the developing world. We hope you’ll cheer on Team AJWS as they take on the city and race to the finish line to build a more just and equitable world! Donate to Team AJWS here.

AmyGoldsteinAmy Goldstein
Amy is an educator in the New York City Public School system.  She currently teaches Social Studies in grades 9-12 at the NYC iSchool in Lower Manhattan.  Amy loves teaching both United States and Global History, and her students have held exhibits at the New York Historical Society, taken trips to meet policymakers in Washington, and gone to national and international Model United Nations conferences.  Amy has also worked as a school coordinator with the NYC Department of Education Mentoring Program, matching public school students with mentors in the business community.  With her husband and three children, Amy loves spending time exploring New York City, visiting family in Pennsylvania, and taking vacations inside and outside the USA.  She also loves running, reading, and sharing photos on Instagram (@citimouse).  She did her first Manhattan Half Marathon a long time ago on a hot August day in Central Park, so she is looking forward to the cooler temperature for the NYCHalf this March!


ElizaQuanbeckEliza Quanbeck
A recent transplant to New York, Eliza originally hails from Virginia but lives on the Upper West Side and loves traveling, cooking, and running! When she’s not running through Central Park, she is dreaming up adventures at Absolute Travel. She is looking forward to the NYC Half Marathon with equal parts fear and excitement, but so proud to be running for AJWS!




PaulRosenfieldPaul Rosenfield
Paul is looking forward to joining the AJWS team to run his first half-marathon!  He is excited to support AJWS’s outstanding work that he gets to hear about first-hand from his wife Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield, Director of Experiential Education.  Besides running, he enjoys long bike rides, competing in triathlons, and skiing with his children Maayan and Yonah.  He is a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai St Luke’s, where he is Director of the Outpatient Clinic and Associate Director of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program.



SamanthaAndAndrewSamantha Shabman and Andrew Trief
Samantha hails from Scarsdale, New York. She is currently a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to rabbinical school, Samantha attended the George Washington University. In her free time she likes to run (obviously), and even better, take long walks! Sam also enjoys spinning, meeting new people, cooking veggie dishes, swimming and sunshine! She is always up for new and exciting experiences and hopes that this is one of many, many more half marathons she will run in her lifetime!

Andrew hails from northern New Jersey, although he spent the majority of his adult years traveling abroad and living in Israel. He is currently a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in New York City pursuing his love for Judaism, the Jewish people, Hebrew, and Israel. In his free time, Andrews spend a lot of time running, traveling, and figuring out how to connect his many passions together. He is very excited to be running as part of the AJWS team in the NYC half marathon!


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Making History for LGBT People Around the World


AJWS’s Executive Vice President Robert Bank welcomed Randy Berry as the U.S.’s first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT People at the State Department on February 27th.

The headlines from almost every corner of the globe in the past few weeks have been endlessly depressing. February may be New York’s coldest month since 1934. And yet, I’m feeling rather elated because something spectacular just happened.

On Friday, February 27th, AJWS President Ruth Messinger and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent AJWS at Secretary of State John Kerry’s Welcome Reception to commemorate the announcement of the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT People, Randy Berry.

Thousands of AJWS supporters, activists and donors from around the country worked tirelessly to advocate for the appointment of this Special Envoy. And, together, we did it! We made history.

It is difficult to convey the excitement and emotion of Friday’s welcome reception for Randy Berry. Ruth and I were both deeply moved. Having spent so much of our careers fighting for the human rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV/AIDS, this day was truly momentous.

And as a Jewish gay South African who came to the United States fleeing apartheid, I have longed for a day when my newly adopted country would not only recognize my human rights as a gay person, but would recognize the need for foreign policy leadership against the brutal discrimination and subjugation of LGBT people in over a third of the countries in the world. And that day has come!

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Powers of Ten: Reflections from an AJWS Global Justice Fellow

David Lieberman is a member of AJWS’s Los Angeles Global Justice Fellowship cohort. The Global Justice Fellowship is a year-long program designed to inspire, educate and train key opinion leaders in the American Jewish community to become activist leaders in support of global justice. David wrote this reflection at the end of his trip with the Global Justice Fellows to India, where they learned from grassroots activists working to overcome poverty and injustice in their own communities.


The AJWS LA Global Justice Fellows visited AJWS grantee SAATHI in India, which provides access to healthcare, education and employment services for India’s marginalized communities.


There is a short educational film called Powers of Ten, which starts with an overhead view of a couple having a picnic in a park. One square meter is outlined in the center of the screen. In the upper right hand corner is an indicator reading one square meter.

The camera zooms out and ten square meters are outlined. The indicator reads 10 square meters. The camera continues to zoom out by powers of 10 until our galaxy is speck in a sky full of galaxies and the indicator reflects the area in powers of 10.

The camera reverses and zooms in to the original one square meter, then zooms in further to powers of -10 focusing on the hand of the male picnicker, and continues to zoom internally down to the cellular level, the atomic level and the nuclear level.

I think that’s exactly what we’re doing when we work with AJWS.  Every effort we put forth is multiplied by powers of 10 through AJWS’s support of more than 500 social change organizations around the world, striving to overcome poverty and oppression in their own communities.

Powers of 10.

And each organization has its own networks. We met some of them on this trip. And each organization in their network multiplies their efforts  through their community organizers, and  each community organizer’s efforts are multiplied throughout their communities.

Powers of 10.

And I look around at our group. Each of our individual efforts are again multiplied as we work together.

Powers of 10.

When we work to transform social conditions, we bring about a change in ourselves. I noticed it in myself this week. For one example, when we checked into our hotel in Kolkata, India, I wondered how many people on the street were displaced by the building of our hotel.  I wondered this after seeing what I’ve seen on this trip, after our meeting with AJWS grantee Kislay, which works to promote the rights of urban poor communities in slum areas of New Delhi. I learned the following morning that although the hotel was renovated recently, the structure has been there for 150 years, so nobody on the street today was displaced by the building of the hotel.  But my thinking to ask the question was a change in me; the awareness was a change in me.


The AJWS LA Global Justice Fellows visited AJWS grantee Kislay, which works to promote the rights of urban poor communities in slum areas of New Delhi, India.
















As we marked the end of Shabbat, a Global Justice Fellow mentioned that the blessing over the wine is about transformation; grapes into grape juice, grape juice into wine, and the human effort it takes to do so.

So, I ask each of the Global Justice Fellows to think about our trip—what you’ve done, what you’ve seen—and let’s use that to continue driving forward to transform social conditions for those who face poverty and injustice around the world. And when we work outwardly to transform social conditions, we transform ourselves internally by powers of 10.

Lieberman, DavidDavid Lieberman, an AJWS-LA Global Justice Fellow, works in the corporate security field for a global biomedical company.

The AJWS Global Justice Fellowship is a selective, year-long program designed to inspire, educate and train key opinion leaders in the American Jewish community to become activist leaders in support of global justice. Learn more about the Global Justice Fellowship

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What I learned from Indian women’s rights leader Manisha Gupte

Child Marriage isn’t just a women’s issue—it’s a human rights issue.

Manisha Gupte, Ph.D. is the co-founder of AJWS grantee Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM), a rural women's organization in Maharashtra, India, that is working to address child marriage and other human rights challenges facing women and girls. For the past 40 years, Manisha has been a leader in the women's health and rights movements in India and on the international stage.

Manisha Gupte, Ph.D. is the co-founder of AJWS grantee Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM), a rural women’s organization in Maharashtra, India, that is working to address child marriage and other human rights challenges facing women and girls. For the past 40 years, Manisha has been a leader in the women’s health and rights movements in India and on the international stage.

I walked into AJWS’s DC Action Team meeting in December to find a conference room with a delightful array of cheeses, crackers and fruit. There were pitchers of water on the table, hot coffee and tea. The chairs were nice and everything seemed comfortable, but I was about to get really uncomfortable.

Whenever I attend an AJWS event, I always feel productively challenged. That evening I was challenged by Dr. Manisha Gupte. Dr. Gupte is co-founder of Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM), an organization supported by AJWS that works to help young men and women in western India learn about their rights and how to advocate for greater choices about their own futures. Rights and freedoms that we take for granted in the United States are not always respected and understood in Indian society.

Dr. Gupte shared stories about the lives of young men and women from the Dalit (“untouchable” caste) in western India. For a variety of reasons and pressures—including gender inequality, poverty and limited sexual health education, to name a few—many of them find themselves in early marriages. Getting married before the age of 18 often limits the opportunities for these children, especially for girls. The issue remains complex. Perhaps the most impressive part about MASUM is that, through its partnership with AJWS, the organization strengthens youth-led advocacy and empowers children to ask for and create change from within their own communities.

As Manisha spoke, I looked around the room with about a dozen women and realized that I was the only man. It was surprising that no other men had made the choice to be there that night. What did that say about the issue at hand? Was it strictly a women’s issue? I tended to think not, and frankly, from the talk that I had just heard, it seemed like men had a lot to learn and gain from their engagement in this conversation.

We were asked to reflect on what we had just heard and how it might impact what action we might take next. I recognized that there was a lot that I needed to learn, and because of what I had heard, I was willing to learn more in order to make a difference. Dr. Gupte had left us with a final thought that really stuck in my mind. “I don’t think women need protection; women’s rights need protection,” she said. Protecting human rights is the bottom line, and is something that people of all genders can—and should—support. All of us, regardless of gender, have a stake in ensuring equal protection for all people’s dignity and human rights.

Andy Kirschner is a member of AJWS’s DC Action Team. AJWS Action Teams mobilize advocates for global justice throughout the United States, helping to create lasting policy change that benefit many of the most marginalized people in the developing world. To get involved, email webelieve@ajws.org.

AJWS’s We Believe campaign is mobilizing American Jewish and other supporters of human rights to demand that the U.S. Congress fully fund efforts designed to end child marriage in the developing world. Learn more and get involved with our We Believe campaign.


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A Global Justice Fellow’s Pre-Travel Reflection

This week, my AJWS Los Angeles Global Justice Fellowship cohort and I are preparing to depart for India to meet with local human rights activists working to overcome poverty and injustice in their own communities. I have been reminded these past few days (especially in the countdown to our departure from LAX) that I am experiencing a familiar feeling. It is so easy to get fixated on the packing list, the details of travel insurance, Malarone™ prescriptions and visa applications. Do I have the right clothes…my trusty travel pillow? …and where did my universal travel plug go?

And when I was traveling for work to the developing world it was even worse: do I have the in-country contact phone numbers, the materials for our field office, the conference freebees and photo consent cards, and all the necessary files and PowerPoints backed up on my computer in case rolling blackouts restrict my internet access?

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