Rabbis Forgo Annual High Holy Days Call with President

The High Holy Days are an opportunity for reflection and introspection. As the leaders of major denominations in American Jewish life, we have been deeply engaged in both, considering the events of the Jewish year that is ending and preparing spiritually for the year to come.

Press Release from the Religious Action Center

In so doing, we have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered whether to continue the practice in recent years of playing key roles in organizing a conference call for the President of the United States to bring High Holiday greetings to American rabbis. We have concluded that President Trump’s statements during and after the tragic events in Charlottesville are so lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred that we cannot organize such a call this year.

The President’s words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia. Responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, including the death of Heather Heyer, does not lie with many sides but with one side: the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists who brought their hate to a peaceful community. They must be roundly condemned at all levels.

The High Holy Days are a season of t’shuva for us all, an opportunity for each of us to examine our own words and deeds through the lens of America’s ongoing struggle with racism. Our tradition teaches us that humanity is fallible yet also capable of change. We pray that President Trump will recognize and remedy the grave error he has made in abetting the voices of hatred. We pray that those who traffic in anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia will see that there is no place for such pernicious philosophies in a civilized society. And we pray that 5778 will be a year of peace for all.

Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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  1. Bonnie Squires says

    When I attended Shabbat services at Shirat Hayam, formerly known as Beth Judah, in Ventnor, New Jersey, Rabbi Jonathan Kremer mentioned briefly a decision which had been made by “four Jewish rabbinical organizations” to withdraw from the annual telephone call with the President of the United States, prior to the high holy days. When I returned to my apartment in Ventnor I made certain to google the NEW YORK TIMES and discover what Rabbi Kremer had been talking about.

    I applaud the decision made by the four organizations, especially when I can still hear in my mind the Neo-Nazis chanting on Shabbas on the campus of the University of Virginia: “Jews will not replace us.” But President Trump’s assertion that there were “fine people” on BOTH sides of the disaster in Charlottesville, Virginia, cannot be ignored. How can storm troopers carrying swastikas and Ku KLux Klan shields be “fine people”?

    • mcgreene says

      Shame on the Rabbis. Shame on the ignorant among us. Even California Senator Diane Feinstein and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi now acknowledge that the war of words against our President has gone too far. The mass media is controlled by the deep state and is waging psychological warfare against we the people. As educated citizens we are capable of understanding that there was violence from both the extreme left and the extreme right in Charlottesville. The Antifascists wore black, carried sticks, and initiated violence. The marchers with the permit were not only KKK. They had people among them who advocated for free speech. These were the innocents caught up in the melee. Failure to acknowledge the violence of the Antifas is a form of intellectual dishonesty. The Rabbis need to repent. During this holy season they need to understand that the President was right to condemn violence on both sides. They need to refrain from political statements that are inappropriate for Jewish religious leaders. And we need to be more nuanced in our judgments.

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