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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.

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