Orthodox Rabbis Speak Out Against Charlottesville Riots

Statement of Orthodox Rabbis and Clergy on Charlottesville Demonstration and its Aftermath

The central teaching of the Bible is that every human being is created in the image of God. This means that every individual and group is unique and to be treasured — but is, no less, equal and of infinite worth. Equality and protection of the law are enshrined in the founding documents of the United States and are central to our national culture and values consensus.

The white nationalist, neo-Nazi, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic demonstration last week in Charlottesville was a sin against God; the violence and murder that followed were inexcusable. We believe that every law-abiding American citizen of good faith joins us in condemning this exhibition of hatred, violence and murder.

We are a group of Orthodox Rabbis. We were deeply troubled by the President’s delay in rejecting the extremists and by an initial equating of the violent and their victims. We were relieved and grateful when President Donald Trump unequivocally condemned the racism, hatred and violence. We were devastated when he backtracked from his morally clear position.

The legitimate point that the President seeks to articulate is that there are troubling manifestations of hatred, prejudice and violence on the extreme left. These phenomena must be combated. But they must not be invoked to mitigate the criminal and hateful behavior displayed and/or advocated by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mr. President - we call on you to express the moral consensus of American democracy and stop equating the behaviors of the extreme right and left in Charlottesville. The fact that the right-wing extremists and their spokesmen expressed support for you means that you have a greater responsibility to make crystal clear that their interpretation of what you are about is wrong.

It is not too late to restore Presidential leadership on this moral question. To do so, you must make a decisive stand for equality, for law, and for the illegitimacy of preaching hatred and practicing discrimination. Respectfully, we suggest that you fire Steven Bannon, your White House counselor who links you to the alt-right in a way that gives credence to wrong and evil interpretations of your position.

As Orthodox Rabbis, we say that no amount of support for Israel can shield Bannon’s extremism. Nor can philo-Semitism excuse Presidential equivocating on the basic moral values of America. As the demonstration in Charlottesville showed us, the racist and anti-immigrant extremists inevitably turn anti-Semitic. Across all lines of race, faith and belief — we are in this together. We ask you to take up leadership in the good fight.

Rabba Dr Carmella Abraham
Rabbi David Almog
Rabbi David Bigman
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila
Rabbi Ariel Burger
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Rabbi Yaakov Chaitovsky
Rabbi Michael Chernick
Rabbi Barry Dolinger
Rabbi Michael Emerson
Rabbi Steven Exler
Rabbi Josh Feigelson
Rabbi Jeffrey Fox
Rabbi Avidan Freedman
Rabbi Eitan Gavson
Rabbi Daniel Geretz
Rabbi Daniel Goodman
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg
Rabbi Steve Greenberg
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg
Rabbi Ira Grussgott
Rabbi Ari Hart
Rabbi Ben Hassan
Rabbi Joel Hecker
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
Rabbi David Jacobowitz
Rabbi David Kalb
Rabbi Ysoscher Katz
Rabbi Will Keller
Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn
Rabbi Frederick Klein
Rabbi Daniel Landes
Rabbi Jon Leener
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Rabbi Dov Linzer
Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse
Rabbi Avram Mlotek
Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman
Rabbi Micha Odenheimer
Rabbi Aaron Potek
Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel
Rabbi Gabriel Seed
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
Rabbi Benjy Shiller
Rabbi Jacob Siegel
Rabbi Garth Silberstein
Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein
Rabbi Zach Truboff
Rabbi Devin Villareal
Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Rabbi Lawrence S. Zierler

This statement grew out of an initiative of Torat Chayim, a rabbinical association of Orthodox rabbis committed to fostering a more pluralistic and progressive future. Both members and non-members of the association are signatories to the statement.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Orthodox Rabbis Speak Out Against Charlottesville Riots

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