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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776

Emily Grotta 212.650.4227


(WASHINGTON, October 25, 2002) -- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and friend of the Wellstone family, released the following statement concerning the tragic plane crash today.

The complete statement follows:

The grief is far too fresh, too raw, for anything other than a few reflections about the valiant life of my friend, Senator Paul Wellstone.

Senator Wellstone wore his passions, proudly, on his sleeve. It was never a mystery where Paul Wellstone stood. In the well of the Senate, in hearing rooms, and, so often, before Jewish audiences, Paul was a fiery speaker, an eloquent advocate. As outspoken as he was on issues, he was just as caring on a personal level. He was tremendously well liked, not just by his colleagues in the Senate but by, for example, the hundreds of workers who make Capitol Hill run -- the police officers, cafeteria workers, and tour guides -- men and women whose names he knew and whose life stories he cared about.

His passion, his eloquence, his commitment to all the values we hold dear are irreplaceable. He was proud of his Jewishness, and in his close work with the Reform Jewish Movement, he frequently articulated a special identification with its focus on social justice. That was never clearer than on the many occasions he made time to meet with Jewish students, motivating them to carry on Judaism's commitment to justice and peace.

Today we mourn, as well, the loss of his partner and our friend Sheila, their daughter Marcia, and the campaign staff and pilots who perished in this tragic accident.

Paul will be remembered as a great prophetic voice in the proud American progressive tradition of Franklin Roosevelt, Senator Phil Hart, and, especially, Paul's hero, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. He was a giant for justice, standing above the political fray with an unmistakable moral clarity.

His life was an inspiration. May his memory be a blessing.


The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.


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