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Rabbis to forgo annual High Holy Days call with president over Charlottesville remarks

(RNS) — Citing President Trump’s comments on the violence earlier this month in Charlottesville, Va., a consortium of American Jewish leaders canceled an annual High Holy Days phone call to the Oval Office.

“The President’s words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia,” a statement from four American Jewish organizations reads.

“Responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, including the death of Heather Heyer, does not lie with many sides but with one side: the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists who brought their hate to a peaceful community. They must be roundly condemned at all levels.”

Many other clergy, as well as politicians and others, criticized Trump this week for seemingly drawing a moral equivalence between bigots and those protesting them when he blamed “many sides” for the violence.

The Jewish leaders said they “prayerfully considered whether to continue the practice in recent years of playing key roles in organizing a conference call for the President of the United States to bring High Holiday greetings to American rabbis.”

The phone call is usually made near Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which fall in September this year.

“We have concluded that President Trump’s statements during and after the tragic events in Charlottesville are so lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred that we cannot organize such a call this year.”

The statement was issued by four leading rabbinical groups:

  • The Central Conference of American Rabbis, affiliated with the Reform movement, the largest stream of Judaism in the U.S.
  • The Rabbinical Assembly, an association of rabbis of the Conservative movement, the second-largest.
  • The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, a smaller but influential rabbinical association.
  • The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a prominent Washington-based advocacy group.

The decision to forgo the call came a day after Trump revisited his original, controversial remarks about Charlottesville at a rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.

“I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let’s see. KKK, we have KKK,” Trump said as he waved sheets of paper — apparently his Charlottesville statements. He did not mention his previous comment that blame for Charlottesville lay “on both sides.”

“The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news,” the president said.

The groups that signed on to the statement do not include any from the Orthodox branches of Judaism, which account for about 10 percent of American Jews. Among faith groups polled, Trump garnered the lowest proportion of votes from Jews — 1 in 4 voted for Trump, who was raised Presbyterian. But he was more popular among the Orthodox. His daughter Ivanka attends an Orthodox synagogue.

Jewish leaders began holding an annual conference call with the president during President Obama’s presidency. Obama discussed a nuclear Iran, assistance to Israel and the role of Jews in the civil rights movement in his calls, which included hundreds of rabbis.

 

 

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

21 Comments

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  • Wouldn’t it be more productive to make the call and discuss this issue with the President if you have his ear?

  • I will be happy to organize a call for you to the Jewish community. This is a disgrace and insult to our president.

  • I upvote you Sir, primarily because you express a willingness to appreciate that while the President often speaks enthusiastically and extemporaneously, people who are so inclined, usually misread what it is he is precisely trying to say. Rather than ever give him the benefit of the doubt, his political adversaries, including the mainstream media, seize upon every expression that does not fit their narrative of what is proper political speech.

  • There is no discussion in these calls. They are one-sided phone calls. The President gave a message and the rabbis listened.

  • Trump is a disgrace and an insult to our nation, our democracy and the world. Can you tell us which were the “very fine people” involved in the neo-Nuremberg torch rally in Charlottesville? Trump certainly hasn’t. Until he explains himself, I can’t disagree with the actions of these groups. I personally would have waited until Trump inevitably refused to do the call, just like he refused to do the iftar dinner or mention the Jewish nature of the Holocaust. Boycotting the call will just play into the alt-right’s hands.
    Also, which if any rabbinical organization are you a member of? I saw from your website that you were ordained at Yeshiva University [Orthodox] but are or were a rabbi at a Conservative synagogue. The Rabbinical Council of America [the largest Orthodox rabbinical group] may still be doing the call.

  • I applaud the actions of American Jewish leaders who canceled the High Holy Days phone call to the Oval Office. It is important that those who are appalled by Trump’s actions not continue on with “business as usual.”

    IT MATTERS that Trump failed to condemn the Nazi’s and Nazi sympathizers who were at the rally. It matters that they carried torches, gave Nazi salutes and chanted Nazi slogans.

    A failure to respond with outrage emboldens those who think it is acceptable to promote the hate of racism.

    This was the right thing to do.

  • most Jewish people vote liberal- so do these rabbis hate the mother country Israel that Trump supports?! What bozos!

  • I think it’s a shame to those that continue supporting lies and outright propaganda when PRESIDENT Trump condemned all democrat groups for rioting. The KKK and White Supremacist are of the same cloth and are democrat organizations. The fact is the liberals are the ones that call the KKK and White Supremacist alt-right and their members are by majority democrats. http://all-that-is-interesting.com/famous-kkk-members

  • My people? ROFL LMAO. I have zero in common with the alt-right. They want to put me in ovens and burn down my house of worship.

  • Then why propagate their lies and propaganda against Trump? After all Trump did condemn all three anti-American terrorist groups.

  • Hi Brethren,

    This Dark Age is of the Christ within your heart in which you treat others as you wished to be treated. So, you are either of the Fold of Christ Jesus, the Church of God headed by Christ Jesus where equality and Justice prevails or you belong to the Fold of Satan in which Mammon and Media that leads to hypocrisy prevails as it did at the times of Jesus and the satanic Temple Priests killed an innocent man Christ Jesus for no fault. Today, the Satanic activities are displayed by USA, Europe, etc., the homes of Mammon and Media by destroying the Middle East so that the Tares, the Jews outwardly and not of heart could be safe from the hostile countries created by them by circumcising the Gentiles who are not of the Semitic race. This malpractice was exposed by Angel Stephen to their Synehdrian and they were grinding teeth to kill him which they did. So, these Jews outwardly corrupted Genesis Chapter 17 on circumcision, the tribal mark of Abraham to Isaac and his generation only. So, they the fake circumcised sons of Abraham in Iran, Pakistan, etc. will kill them today and you cannot blame a third person.

    Further, as USA is creating hell in other countries, they will reap the fruit of their own deeds in their own country through civil war. In God treat others as you wished to be treated applies. Over 5900 Youtube Videos explaining the Parables of the New Testament and other Holy Books, the dead letterswithout holy spirit, common sense, that shatters the fetters of the letters, Holy Books; channel nijjhar1. Atomic War is expected on 14/05/2023 when Israel is 75 years old. For 70 years till May, 2018, Israel is fully protected as the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. (7 x 10 = 70). Our Supernatural Father Elohim, Allah, Parbrahm, etc. knows better than me, a stupid person.

  • You are right! these people are just lost souls! Or are mentally unstable? or just Evil? maybe all!!

  • Much to David Duke’s delight. That the people who brought guns to a rally to intentionally spark off violence and committed an act of domestic terrorism got lumped in with the reaction to their misdeeds and disgusting agenda.

    So when have you stopped being a neo-nazi?

  • So what was the name of the White Supremacist rally again?

    “Unite the Right”

    Its a shame that you have to resort to half truths and fabrication to support the Neo-Nazi Supporter in Chief.

  • They’re only showing spitefulness to themselves listening to known liberal propaganda. I can’t really see the loss to Trump on their own foolish decision.

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