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Standing Against Hate

Prior to the High Holidays American rabbis have participated in a conference call with the President of the United States. This year there will be no such call. Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis decided to forgo this tradition in an effort to protest President Trump’s handling of the hate rally and violence in Charlottesville and in particular his failure to unequivocally condemn those whose ideology our nation fought bloody wars to defeat. This is a decision I support. On this occasion I am particularly proud of my membership in the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Here is the full statement:
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. 
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 Holy Day 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’shuvah 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.

Typically I am given to debating all opinions. I welcome disagreement. There is, however, only one response to antisemitism. It must be categorically and unequivocally rejected.

I expect nothing less from my beloved country and its leaders.

There is no room for hateful ideologies within our nation’s tapestry. There were no fine people among those marchers.

I pray that our President will come to see this important distinction.