As the world responds to the US election, we reach out to you in shared love of Torah, Jewish community, family and friends. The past several months have been a volatile and challenging election season and it is fair to say that while we never know what lies ahead, feelings of uncertainty are particularly acute for many in our Jewish community at this time. Our RA re-envisioning process taught us to be sensitive to and aware of the many and varied views held by our members and members of our communities about any political figure or public issue and we affirm with love and gratitude that we are one Rabbinical Assembly and one Conservative/Masorti movement family. We are grateful for the values and commitments of our family, emanating from the Torah’s central principles of Tzelem Elohim and K’vod Habriot.
This election cycle was marked by shocking and often frightening departures from the civil discourse of the United States and we share our serious concern for the safety and well-being of our community and for many diverse peoples around the world. But the election season has now passed and we all need to unite as one nation.
We call upon President-Elect Trump, in this new phase of his life, to be cognizant of the profound responsibilities that now rest upon his shoulders. We hope that he will embrace his duties to all Americans and to the people around the world who rely upon the United States as a beacon of freedom, justice and hope. We call upon him to repudiate any statements by his supporters or would-be supporters that vilify any group. We hear the real pain and suffering of many in the United States who are struggling to care for themselves and their families and stand ready to work with the new administration to meaningfully improve the lives of all Americans and of good and decent people around the world. We look forward to the continuing strong ties between the US and Israel which have long transcended any particular election.
The hallmark of a strong democracy is not in any single election, but in the continuity of the norms and institutions of the society itself which are passed on from generation to generation and upheld by diverse communities that cherish and practice democracy’s core values. The leaders and communities of civil society including houses of worship, voluntary organizations, the academy and the press are all guarantors of democracy and maintain it through the vicissitudes that any society will endure over time. As rabbis we reaffirm our commitment to uphold our values and strengthen and unite our communities. We are especially grateful to be a part of the Conservative/Masorti movement, which is a model of commitment to the continuity of a cherished tradition, recognizes that tough questions have complex answers, and is dedicated to building unity by respecting diverse voices. As we approach Shabbat Lekh Lekha, we continue reading the saga of our forefather Abraham who models for us the Jewish values of welcoming the stranger and intervening to advocate for the safety of others’ lives. When Abraham expresses his fear, God responds, “Anokhi Magen Lakh”, I will be your shield. Our tradition teaches us that the shield of Abraham is our Torah, and it is upon us to strive for righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and respect. We are each shielded and strengthened by the vast network of good people who aspire to live by these principles. We rejoice in the diversity of these good people and are inspired by the teachings of so many world traditions that express similar human aspirations.We vow to stand with them, and work with them, for the good of all. May we go from strength and to strength and, in the words of our Torah, may we be a blessing.
Philip Scheim, President
Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President