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Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
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Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is the Director of North American Programs for T'ruah. Ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a student activist and leader, she is a noted speaker and writer on Judaism and human rights, including speaking internationally on behalf of the U.S. State Department on the issue of human trafficking. An expert on labor trafficking, she spearheads the successful partnership between T'ruah and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, inspiring rabbis to join the fight against slavery and for dignified work and better wages in the Florida tomato industry. She also coordinates campaigns on American use of torture, solitary confinement, and bigotry against American Muslims. Her writing has appeared on CNN.com, the Forward, the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, and many other publications. Rabbi Kahn-Troster was named to the Jewish Week's 2011 "36 under 36" for her human rights activism, and was profiled by both the Jewish Week and the Jewish Standard for her anti-trafficking work. She previously served as rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and the JCC of Manhattan, and is a member of Rabbis Without Borders. Rabbi Kahn-Troster serves on the board of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, with her husband, Dr. Paul Pelavin, and their daughters Liora and Aliza.

Entries by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

Committing to Change and Justice at Wendy's

(2) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 12:55 PM

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Seven rabbis gathered in a Wendy's restaurant in Southwest Florida and began to pray.

Last week, T'ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights hosted our sixth rabbinic delegation to the small town of Immokalee, FL. These rabbis who had flown in...

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Counting the Days: It Is Time to Close Guantanamo

(26) Comments | Posted May 13, 2013 | 10:31 AM

Right now, the Jewish community is finishing up its annual marking of days, as each night we count the Omer, the 49 days between the second night of Passover and the beginning of Shavuot. The time between liberation and revelation is one of spiritual preparation to receive God's word, moving...

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Thankful for a New Day for Florida Farmworkers: Publix, Join the Fair Food Program

(5) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 10:00 AM

The Jewish blessing for thanksgiving, the shehechiyanu, thanks God for granting us life, sustaining us and bringing us to the particular moment in our lives that we are grateful for. In a rushed world, we slow down to savor the present, and to reflect on steps brought us to this...

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Companionship or Death: The Torture of Solitary Confinement

(33) Comments | Posted September 6, 2012 | 8:42 AM

"Either companionship or death!" --Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 23a

This Talmudic cry points to the necessity of companionship for human life. Honi HaMa'agel, a Rip Van Winkle-like character, wakes from a long sleep to learn that his friends and family are long since gone. Life without companionship, he decides, is just...

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Integrity and Justice: Tell Chipotle to Go Deeper Than Just a Slogan

(16) Comments | Posted July 25, 2012 | 12:57 PM

What's in a slogan? Is it merely a carefully designed marketing hook or is it a statement of core values, distilled down to its essence?

This week, on Shabbat, the Jewish community begins its annual recitation of the book of Deuteronomy in synagogues. Reading parts of Deuteronomy can often...

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How Many Slaves Produced Your Seder?

(58) Comments | Posted April 4, 2012 | 7:28 AM


This year, I keep getting questions about chocolate.

Passover seems to be the annual peak of Jewish chocolate consumption (perhaps because it makes an easy dessert when many of us find baking without flour difficult), and for the ethical, kosher-keeping consumer, a tension emerges. There...

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'A Certain People Who Don't Obey the King's Laws': Purim and NYPD Surveillance

(5) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 10:13 AM

I grew up in Toronto in the mid-late 1980s and early 1990s, part of a Jewish community that included a percentage of Holocaust survivors and their descendents. Our community was a generation "newer" than the American Jewish community, and it wasn't unusual to have grandparents or great-grandparents who were born...

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Choosing Justice: We Can't Consume Our Way to a Better World

(3) Comments | Posted March 5, 2012 | 2:32 PM

Sometimes I feel like corporations think we can consume our way to a better world. If we only buy the right (green/local/organic/fair trade) products, we will make things better. Or we buy something and it makes a donation to a cause. What a bargain! I got to take something home...

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Choose Our Highest Values, Reject Fear

(4) Comments | Posted December 15, 2011 | 2:27 PM

What is our highest value? In Jewish tradition, two rabbis debate the question of what constitutes the Torah's most central commandment. Rabbi Akiva insists on "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) while Ben Azzai holds that the assertion in Genesis that every human being is created in God's image,...

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Celebrating International Human Rights Day

(4) Comments | Posted December 10, 2011 | 7:10 AM

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the UDHR), which was proclaimed 63 years ago this Saturday, Dec. 10, 1948. She used to offer a nightly prayer that ended by asking God to "Save us from ourselves and show us a...

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A Just Harvest for Sukkot

(4) Comments | Posted October 12, 2011 | 12:23 PM

It's not every day that I get kicked out of a supermarket, but it's also a bit unusual to see a group of rabbis singing in Hebrew in the tomatoes section of a Publix in Naples, Fla.

Fifteen rabbis and I had travelled to Immokalee, Fla., to meet with...

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Cheney May Have No Regrets About Torture -- But We Should

(11) Comments | Posted September 15, 2011 | 12:14 PM

This week, former Vice President Dick Cheney has come to New York to hobnob with members of the financial elite at the Rodman and Renshaw Annual Global Investors Conference and chat with the hosts of "The View." As he promotes his new memoir, "In My Time," and relishes the role...

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Stories of Loss and Chaos: The Ninth of Av and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

(42) Comments | Posted August 8, 2011 | 5:00 PM

Stories change with every retelling -- sometimes the details and sometimes the meaning. The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will be here soon, and then the stories will begin again.

I was in New York on 9/11. From a bus entering the Lincoln Tunnel, I saw the...

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Teaching Our Children: Ethics and Shavuot

(7) Comments | Posted June 7, 2011 | 10:54 AM

In the weeks before the death of Osama bin Laden thrust the debate over the efficacy and morality of torture back into the headlines, a disturbing report was released by the American Red Cross. After speaking with hundreds of American teenagers, it became clear that the generation that...

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Building Bridges of Freedom: The Interfaith Movement to End Slavery

(69) Comments | Posted May 26, 2011 | 1:00 PM

What do a minister, a rabbi and a nun have in common? In the case of myself, Reverend David Schilling of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sister Estrella Castalone of Talitha Kum, it is the fierce desire to see an end to modern slavery....

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With Bin Laden's Death, Torture Is Still Not The Answer

(126) Comments | Posted May 5, 2011 | 1:28 PM

Since the death of Osama Bin Laden on Sunday, the architects of the torture program have rushed to resurrect their claim that enhanced interrogation techniques protected our nation in the aftermath of 9/11. Disregarding the absence of clear facts and overeager to justify an illegal operation, Jonathan Yoo, Jose Rodriquez,...

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Reacting to the Death of Osama Bin Laden: We Should Reflect, Not Rejoice

(13) Comments | Posted May 4, 2011 | 1:28 PM

I was checking my email late Sunday night when I noticed a headline on the New York Times website: "President Obama to address the nation." "They've caught Bin Laden," I said to my husband. "There is nothing else urgent enough for an instant press conference on a Sunday night." As...

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