B’nai Jeshurun ‘Regrets’ UN Letter

Under pressure, rabbis say letter on Palestinian vote was ‘unedited draft’ and not nuanced enough.

12/06/12
Staff Writer
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Stung by criticism over their e-mail to congregants lauding the United Nations for recognizing the Palestinians, the rabbis of B’nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side sent a new e-mail Thursday morning to express regret that their original e-mail did not convey the proper tone.

“We regret the feelings of alienation that resulted from our letter,” the rabbis wrote.

The letter, which triggered a front-page article in the New York Times because of the critical opinions it generated from congregants, was sent prematurely, the rabbis revealed.

“While we affirm the essence of our message, we feel that it is important to share with you that through a series of unfortunate internal errors, an incomplete and unedited draft of the letter was sent out which resulted in a tone which did not reflect the complexities and uncertainties of this moment,” the rabbis wrote.

On Tuesday, The Jewish Week sought comment from officials at B’nai Jeshurun and was told they had been in a meeting all afternoon about the letter. They promised to respond but never did.

The original letter, which was sent last Friday, called the previous day’s UN vote “a great moment for us as citizens of the world.”

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition,” it said.

“Having gained independence ourselves in this way, we are especially conscious of this. Every people has the right of recognition, every person has the right of recognition.

“As Jews deeply committed to the security and democracy of Israel, and in light of the violence this past month in Gaza and Israel, we hope that November 29, 2012 will mark the moment that brought about a needed sense of dignity and purpose to the Palestinian people, led to a cessation of violence and hastened the two-state solution.”

In the Times story, congregant Allan Ripp was quoted as saying of the letter: “We are just sort of in a state of shock. It’s not as if we don’t support a two-state solution, but to say with such a warm embrace — it is like a high-five to the P.L.O., and that has left us numb.”

The Palestinians’ decision to seek an upgraded status at the UN was criticized by the United States, Israel and most major American Jewish organizations because the Palestinians had promised to work to achieve peace with Israel through direct negotiations. Going to the UN, they said, bypassed that route and accomplished nothing constructive.

“We have heard from many of you,” the rabbis wrote Thursday. “We thank you for taking the time to write or call to express your opinions. The depth of feeling expressed has moved us. Some of you found our words very upsetting; for others of you, the message resonated powerfully.”

“We genuinely love this community,” they continued. “BJ is our home and we have devoted many years building relationships with so many of you. We have achieved a great deal together. … Although we recognize that not all are in agreement with our views, we trust that we will find a way to live with our differences, challenging as that may sometimes be.”

The rabbis, Roly Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol, stressed that they are “passionate lovers of Israel” who have lived there and have family and friends there.

“We are unequivocally committed to Israel’s security, democracy and peace,” they wrote. “We will continue to devote ourselves to the dignity of Israel, of our people and of all peoples. Let us move forward together.”

They added that the e-mail was a letter from them and erroneously included the names of the cantor, board president, executive director and director of Israel engagement.

stewart@jewishweek.org
 

Last Update:

12/16/2012 - 10:39

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YOU'RE FIRED! (Rabbi Trump)

I know that securing the Palestinians a seat at the table of the UN is grasping at straws. But what else do we have to grasp? There is a slight chance now for a miraculous switch. Remember, Gorbechov declared one day in 1992 that the Cold War was over.

Of course they told their true feelings in the first email announcement, and are now half-lying through their teeth. But what do you expect? These people - even though Jewish - have never accepted the yoke of the commandments, so for them Ahavat Israel is simply a foolish thing. Like the Pessach Hagada says about one of the sons - if he were in Egypt, he would never been taken out of there.

the rabbis that wrote the letter in dispute don't seem to understand that the arabs their letter is supporting would be more than willing to attack and kill them(these rabbis) if they went to judenfrei "palestine".

Which Palestine do these “citizens of the world” support? Do they support the Palestine of Hamas, which calls directly for Israel’s destruction or for the Palestine of Abbas, who calls for the “right of return” and who doesn’t recognize any Jewish rights to Jerusalem or any of the land? Do they support the division of Jerusalem so no Jew can pray at Jewish Holy sites? Their ill-conceived morality demands criticism of Israel, but not of Palestinians. What if Palestine, like Gaza today, chooses not to live in peace with Israel?
These “citizens of the world” are accountable to no one. Ensconced in their safe communities they set themselves apart and above Jews, who are attacked and killed in a Holy War against Israel. They speak blithely of their support for Israel, but when Israel stood friendless they stood with Palestinians committed to killing Jews.

Why would any member of B'nai Yeshurun be surprised at the letter their Rabbis wrote? They are supporters of J-Street and every other ultra left wing cause. This is typical- glad I am NOT a member. Why aren't they teaching their congregants a love for Israel? Such a disgrace.

Dear Rabbis,
There is nothing to regret here. You have done what your common sense,and conscious have told you to do, and that is seeing a positive move toward a peaceful solution for this long lasting tragedy for the Palestinian and Israeli people. What is sad, how the Jewish community have jumped on you, to ostracize you and pressure you from expressing your humanity toward the aspiration of other humans to be free and liberated from occupation. Don't feel any wrong doing. I think you just showed your conscious and humanity. Good for you. Maybe the others will learn something from that. Defending Israel right or wrong is not Kosher in my opinion.

Regarding B'NA' Jeshurun UN letter lauding the Palestinians recognition by the United Nations.

There is no such thing as Palestinians. They are Arabs that were kicked out of Jordan, because of their radical and violent actions. They want to destroy Israel not make peace. They send their children with bombs strapped on to kill innocent Israelis.
I am not a member of your congregation. But if I was, you would be getting my resignation letter.

With friends like you, you don't need enemies.

Too bad that they needed to step back from the original letter somewhat. I think the original tone was correct--Israel should be the first to welcome an actual, legitimate Palestinian state's progress into the UN. Only when there are two states, side by side, independent and not co-dependent, will there be a chance for peace. Abbas' moderate government needs support like this to thrive, if it is to defeat the nihilist Hamas.

The consequences of there NOT being a realistic two-state solution promulgated, and of Israel's refusing to discuss real-life boundaries and borders issues, while continuing to build on territory that is under dispute, would be most likely the destruction of Israel by a coalition of enraged Arab neighbors.

arnold ziffle you synthesize my thoughts very adeptly....tell those rabbis to stay out of political opinion. they are not running from enemies like the israelis and jews have for centuries... just read the book and daven and guide your congregants to DO THE RIGHT THING...

With disgust I read the article in The New York Times. When this country was more honorable than it is now, there was a concept called "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". That's exactly what those liberal rabbis did and they should receive the death penalty for what they did. At the very least members of their congregation should resign. Let them be clergy of a synagogue with nio members.

If the Rabbi of my congregation dares to issue a prononucement like the original one issued by B'Nai Jeshuran's clergy, than I'm out the door immediately.

By the way I don't believe for a minute that their revised one reflects what they really believe.

Louis H. Blumengarten

Dear Mr Blumengarten,
I was very saddened to read your letter to the Jewish Week. I appreciate that you have strong opinions. However, calling for the death penalty for rabbis who express their sincerely-held opinion on an issue of importance not only to Israelis but to Jews around the world, is, I fear, what truly gives aid and comfort to the enemy. The rabid hatred between fellow Jews with equally deep commitments to the future of the Jewish people does harm to the Jewish community far deeper than any suicide bomber would ever be able to accomplish. Remember that it was internal dissention, the lack of lovingkindness between fellow Jews, sinat chinam, senseless hatred of one Jew for another, say the Sages, that led to the destruction of the Second Temple, not the power of Rome. Reading your letter reminds me of the violent, hate-filled words being regularly promulgated in Israel prior to an act of violence that ended the life of Yitzhak Rabin. Is it possible for Jews to disagree with one another while keeping in mind that each of us are created b'tzelem elohim, in the image of God?

Could the BJ rabbis have chosen better words to express their deep commitment to the hope for a two-state solution that leaves each side living in peace and security? No doubt. Are their hearts and hopes in the right place? I very much believe so.

I have four adult sons. When they discuss Israel, I want to walk out of the kitchen because the heat is too hot for me. Their opinions reflect the full spectrum of political thought. Notably, despite the differences of opinion, they remain committed brothers who actually come back to the conversation again and again and yes even again. I respect their practice and offer it as a good model for congregations.
Congregations are like families in many ways---people who care about each other and don't agree on important issues. So I'm glad to see BJ's rabbis are bold enough to express an opinion, hear what other members of the family are saying, honor those voices and keep their opinion ..and even be open to changing it. Only if we can find a way to be bound to each other while we disagree can we thrive.

The response seems even more unedited than the original letter.

Appropriate for the jewish weak.

They sent the original e-mail last Friday. Today, six full days later, they discover "a series of errors." Why did it take those learned rabbonim six days to discover that, for example, they added unauthorized signatories to their original missive ? Did it take the outrage from their own members, and much of the community, to discover those "errors" ?

What errors? Aren't they entitled to their own opinions to support a move to recognize the rights of other people? Is the blind full support of israel ,right or wrong, all that matters to you? I think a common sense, and seeking of fairness and justice from those Rabbonim, should be commended, and applauded.

Dear Rabbi's,
You are playing in a part of the world that you know nothing about. I'm sure it feels so liberal to welcome a new state. But, it's not a state that's interested in your welcome or embrace. It's a state that is seeking leverage to destroy another state. That's why, negotiations and pronouncements should be left to the adults; to Israelis who live there and have to deal with the consequences on the ground. Consequences like war, death, missiles survival. Not, whether or not you can find a taxi in Mid-town. Shame on you!

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