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Over 100 Rabbis Denounce The Death Penalty

We, the undersigned Rabbis across denominations, express our opposition to the use of the death penalty in America.

As Jews and citizens, we believe that governments must protect the dignity and rights of every human being. By using the death penalty, our country fails to live up to this basic requirement.

Too often, the wrong person is convicted for crimes they did not commit. Due to their socio-economic situation or lack of access to legal resources, wrongly convicted people often have no real opportunity to respond to an overwhelming legal system that, after an initial conviction, makes the proof of innocence very difficult. The consequences of this system are not only fundamentally unjust but also produce racially disparate outcomes. Additionally, tax payers are required to pay exorbitant amounts to maintain death row.

The Rabbis taught that a court that often puts others to death is deeply problematic. How often? Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says, “Every 70 years.” Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say, “If we were in a court, no person would ever be executed,” (Makkot 7a). While not categorically opposed to capital punishment, the rabbis saw the death penalty as so extreme a measure that they all but removed it from their system of justice. Regarding capital punishment, the Sages had a very high bar for reliable evidence, were eager to find ways to acquit, and were deeply concerned about the dignity of those that were indeed condemned. In contrast, our American system today lacks the highest safeguards to protect the lives of the innocent and uses capital punishment all too readily.

We do not naively believe that everyone on death row is completely innocent of any crime. Yet, it is time to see the death penalty for what it is: not as justice gone awry, but a symptom of injustice as status quo. “You must rescue those taken off to death!”(Proverbs 24:11)!

As Jewish community leaders, we are calling for an end to a cruel practice, but also for the beginning of a new paradigm of fair, equitable restorative justice.

Rabbi Leo Michel Abrami

Rabbi Rachel Adler

Rabbi Aaron Alexander

Rabbi Adina Allen

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Rabbi Morris Allen

Rabbi Dr Elisha Ancselovits

Rabbi Camille Shira Angel

Rabbi Yossef Arbaim Rabbi Ethan Bair

Rabbi David Bauman

Rabbi Buz Bogage

Rabbi Herbert Brockman

Rabbi Sharon Brous

Rabbi John Bush

Rabbi Meredith Cahn

Rabbi Micah Caplan

Rabbi Dr Michael Chernick

Rabbi Ian Chesir-Teran

Rabbi Yosi Cirlin

Rabbi Dr. Geoffrey Claussen

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels

Rabbi Getzel Davis

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Rabbi Barry Dolinger

Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus

Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Stephen Einstein

Rabbi Jean Eglinton

Rabbi Diane Elliot

Rabbi Barat Ellman

Rabbi Steven Exler

Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg

Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

Rabbi Jacob Fine

Rabbi Jonah Geffen

Rabbi Dr Miriyam Glazer

Rabbi Michael Goldman

Rabbi Megan GoldMarche

Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein

Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin

Rabbi Dr. Mel Gottlieb

Rabbi Sarah Leah Grafstein

Rabbi Dr. Art Green

Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg

Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

Rabbi David Greenstein

Rabbi Ronald Eugene Grossman

Rabbi Maurice Harris

Rabbi Ari Hart

Rabbi Lauren Henderson

Rabbi Jason Herman

Rabbi Jocee Hudson

Rabbi Mark Hurvitz

Rabbi David Jaffe

Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill

Rabbi Chana Johnson

Rabbi Dr. Miriam Jerris

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

Rabbi David Kalb

Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

Rabbi Elana Kanter

Rabbi Alan J Katz

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block

Rabbi Daniel Kirzane

Rabbi Jonathan Klein

Rabbi Lori Klein

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Rabbi Andy Koren

Rabbi Rachmiel Langer

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz

Rabbi Jon Leener

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz

Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh

Rabbi David Lerner

Rabbi Sheldon Lewis

Rabbi Dennis Linson

Rabbi Dov Linzer

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann

Rabbi Yehoshua Looks

Rabbi Ari Lucas

Rabbi Nina H Mandel

Rabbi Devorah Marcus

Rabbi Paula Marcus

Rabbi Jeffrey Marker

Rabbi Richard Marker

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse

Rabbi Dr Yehudah Mirsky

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

Rosh Kehillah Dina Najman

Rabbi Malka Packer-Monroe

Rabbi Michael Paley

Rabbi David Paskin

Rabbi Shuli Passow

Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Rabbi David Polsky

Rabbi Aaron Potek

Rabbi Joshua Ratner

Rabbi Tracee Rosen

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn

Rabbi Derek Rosenbaum

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum

Rabbi Ralph Ruebner

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips

Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel

Rabbi Robert Scheinberg

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder

Rabbi Evan Schultz

Rabbi Judith Seid

Rabbi Dr. Sid Schwarz

Rabbi David Segal

Rabbi Ahud Sela

Rabbi Jamie Serber

Rabbi Drorah Setel

Rabbi Dean Shapiro

Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman

Rabbi Jeremy Sher

Rabbi Jack Silver

Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

Rabbi Suzanne Singer

Rabbi Jenny Solomon

Rabbi Marc Soloway

Rabbi Abby Sosland

Rabbi Robin S. Sparr

Rabbi Scott Sperling

Rabbi David Spinrad

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Rabbi Erica Steelman

Rabbi Dr. Oren Steinitz

Rabbi David Straus

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman

Rabbi David Teutsch

Rabbi Beni Wajnberg

Rabbi Deborah Waxman

Rabbi Elyse Wechterman

Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg

Rabbi Dr. Cheryl Weiner

Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub

Rabbi Ora Weiss

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

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