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We Must All Expect More: A Reform Jewish Letter About the Public Discourse

We Must All Expect More: A Reform Jewish Letter About the Public Discourse

People marching over a bridge holding signs that read DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY MARCH PROUDLY

As we prepare to enter the High Holidays, we remember that the words of the High Holiday prayer book are written in the collective, reminding us that responsibility for misdeeds and their correction lies with the community as much as the individual. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once observed, “Some are guilty; all are responsible.”

We must all take responsibility for the state of our world. It is in this vein that yesterday, I joined leaders of 13 Reform Jewish institutions in expressing deep concern about the coarseness of American public discourse, led in too many ways by President Trump. I have never signed a statement like this before, but the reality is: We must all expect more from the president of the United States.

Read the statement here.

Since taking office, President Trump has shown a lack of empathy and understanding toward communities of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, non-Christian religious groups, and others. His harmful words and actions have paved the way for elected officials and individuals to mistreat and target these communities, creating division and fear among the American people. As we say in our statement:

Hate speech is hate speech, and hate speech leads all too easily to hate crimes. We all have roles to play in stemming the spread of hate, and elected officials tasked with pursuing the common good – chief among them the president – have a special obligation to uplift, rather than diminish, the public they serve.

Our statement is rooted in the themes of repentance and reflection, all the more relevant as we enter a time of self-reflection during the month of Elul. I invite you to read the complete statement and share with your friends and family, if you are comfortable.

Want to get more involved in the Reform Jewish community? Learn about the diverse organizations that comprise the Reform Jewish Movement, encompassing every age and interest group.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner represents the Reform Movement to Congress and the administration as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He also serves as the senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Published: 9/04/2019

Categories: Jewish Life, Social Justice
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