Jan. 11, 2014, New York, NY
- On the occasion of the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, released the
we mourn the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an iconic leader whose love
for Israel and the Jewish people infused his entire illustrious career. He was
a visionary, larger than life, with the courage to constantly assess his stated
positions, always with an eye toward pragmatism and concern for his beloved Israel.
one of Israel's greatest military strategists, his role in Israel's wars - from
the War of Independence to the 1956 Suez Campaign, the 1967 and 1973 wars - was
pivotal to ensuring Israel's security and indeed, the very existence of the state.
military prowess did not always serve him well. His decision, as Israel's
Minister of Defense, to promote the 1982 war in Lebanon, and his actions that
played a role in the deaths of residents of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp
by Lebanese phalangists, were terribly misguided.
after a national inquiry and his resignation, he successfully returned to
political life, capturing the votes and affection of the Israeli public. Most
dramatically, this one-time architect of Israels settlement project, as Prime
Minister from 2003-2005, led the government that forced a withdrawal of Jewish
settlers from the Gaza strip, showing that throughout his storied career, he
remained firm in his resolve to do what he saw as best for Israels security.
believed that Israel's well-being rests on its future as a Jewish democratic
state, and for that, he made hard decisions that upended Israel's political
landscape, with the aim of achieving lasting peace and security for Israel.
his absence has been felt since he suffered a stroke in 2006, his own words and
legacy continue to inspire: 'The future lies before us. We are required to take
difficult and controversial steps, but we must not miss the opportunity to try
to achieve what we have wished for, for so many years: security, tranquility
his memory be for a blessing and may his family be comforted among the mourners
the Union for Reform Judaism
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