Israel, Justice

Conservative Clergy Students Say No to Annexation

There’s a general fear among rabbis about speaking honestly about their complicated relationships with the State of Israel — they worry that doing so might alienate members of their communities and risk their own professional futures. For rabbinical students, the fear is even greater — will anyone hire me if I criticize Israel? We hope that by establishing that there is a large group of Conservative rabbinical students who care about a just and peaceful future, we can take away some of the stigma around speaking openly. We hope to invite conversations with our communities centered around honesty over fear.

We, future clergy of the Conservative Movement, write to express our absolute opposition to President Trump’s “Vision for Peace” and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stated intentions to unilaterally apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Each of these proposals flies in the face of decades of diplomatic efforts to achieve a just and peaceful future: Trump’s plan would leave Palestinians with a handful of discontiguous territories surrounded by settlements, and Netanyahu’s would make permanent the status quo in which millions of Palestinians live under Israeli military control without civil rights. Trump’s irresponsible vision and Netanyahu’s objective of annexation will move the region closer to catastrophe and even further from peace.

We are deeply disappointed that some American Jewish groups have applauded this disastrous plan. As emerging Jewish leaders, we wish to make clear that any political decision that strips Palestinians of their rights is antithetical to our belief in human dignity. We dream of a democratic Israel that affirms the humanity and agency of all who dwell there, and of a government that honors the shared history of Jews and Palestinians in the land.

We read in last week’s parasha of the moment when the Israelites stand on the banks of Yam Suf, freedom within reach but still beyond the mighty waters of the sea. As Pharaoh’s armies draw near to recapture their former slaves, the Israelites face a choice: return to Mitzrayim, accept the status quo, and cement injustice — or step into the waters of freedom, bravely imagining the liberated society they will build on the other side. To affirm Trump’s plan as a genuine step towards peace is to walk backwards towards Mitzrayim, towards disaster. Let us instead, American and Israeli Jews alike, walk in the path of our ancestors, stepping into the difficult task of dismantling injustice as we build and support a grander vision of a shared destiny with our Palestinian siblings.

As the next generation of American Jewish clergy, we are unafraid to express our open support of human rights for all people, even as it means confronting inconvenient truths about the State of Israel. We believe in the possibility of a homeland that affirms the values of our Jewish tradition, one that honors the Divine in every one of its residents. May we walk together towards this dream, a new song of freedom and peace upon our lips.

כן יהי רצון
May this be God’s Will

 

Signed:

Naomi A. Zaslow
Shani Abramowitz
Jonathon Adler
Viktoria Bedo
Jess Belasco
Emmanuel Cantor
David Chapman
Jessica Dell’Era
Benjy Forester
Grace Gleason
Joshua Greenberg
Maor Greene
Marcelle Hohl
Michael Faccini
Margo Hughes-Robinson
Adam J Gillman
Leah Julian
Talia Kaplan
Joshua Klein
Aaron Leven
Allen Lipson
Deborah Megdal
Blair Nosanwisch
Shana Onigman
Emily JK Holtzman
Benjamin Perlstein
Lilli Shvartsmann
Max Silverstone
Samuel Vingron
Emily Volz
Aron Wander
Abi Weber
Andy Weissfeld
Amelia Wolf
Dave Yedid
Maya Zinkow

9 thoughts on “Conservative Clergy Students Say No to Annexation

  1. The conservative movement and its institutions are dying. These future rabbis will have little audience for their unique sense of “social justice.”

    As if anyone cared what they had to say anyways. Their sense of self importance knows no bounds. Get a pulpit position and a job before you start preaching my friends. I’m probably the only person outside the group of 36 signatories who even read their statement.

  2. Citing religious text and ending with “May this be God’s will” is amazingly pompous. Whether or not Israel retains the Jordan Valley as a result of negotiations leading to a repartition of the land of Israel is a political not theological matter. This is a very ethnocentric political statement not the universalist statement it aspires to be. The real point here is that the Israeli Rabbinate has not recognized Conservative Rabbis authority and their feelings are hurt.

  3. A heart felt and just Open Letter.

    Thank you for its content, its inclusivity and its Orthodox adherence to the Divine; affirming the humanity and agency of all.

    I was born in Jerusalem, Jerusalemite-Armenian family, direct descendants of Ottoman Armenian Genocide.

    The message of your Open Letter is deeply meaningful to me, at a deep Personal and emotional level.

    You will be wonderful Jewish Rabbies and leaders though in my (non Jewish) eyes, I believe as students, you just graduated.

    1. Or better yet, “Conservative Judaism Seminary Students” forget their Talmudic and biblical teachings while supporting a Palestinian State!!!!

    2. Conservative Judaism has been on the steady decline for better part of two decades. Why these rabbinical students feel like anyone cares about their opinions at this point in their careers is the height of arrogance!?
      Conservative institutions are eroding and memberships at conservative Shuls dwindling. I fear there will be little audience for these future rabbis and their misguided views. At least they are “woke” though! Keep up the good work conservative rabbinical students! You’ll need it on the job search! Sad to see ramah and schechter grads sign onto to this letter 🙁

    3. Is it a minority? My impression is that most attendees of Conservative “Temples” are “progressives”, who would not only cut Israel in half, but spend their time praying that the U.S. enters a recession so that Orange Man can be replaced with a communist, cough , I mean a Democrat Socialist.

  4. “The Masorti plan would leave JEWS with a handful of discontiguous territories surrounded by Jihadistinians, and the communist fake Jews / JINOS would make permanent a status quo in which millions of JEWS live under MUSLIM military control AS DHIMMIES”

    /fixed it.

  5. It’s a shame that many folks in the comments thread are denigrating the statement of conservative rabbinical students based on the current status / trajectory of the conservative movement at large. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what they wrote, perhaps argue with their ideas and beliefs rather than spewing immature petulance.

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