Skip Navigation
August 23, 2014 | 27th Av 5774

Reform Movement Leader Responds to Vote to Keep J Street Out of Conference of Presidents

May 1, 2014, New York, NY – In response to yesterday's vote by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to reject J Street's application for membership, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs made the following statement:

Yesterday's vote by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to reject J Street's application for membership made clear what many have long known, but not said publicly: That the Conference of Presidents is captive of a large number of small organizations that do not represent the diversity of views in our community. As many of us argued before and at the meeting, yesterday's debate was actually a referendum not on J Street but on the Conference of Presidents itself. As of yesterday, it is clear that the Conference of Presidents, as currently constituted and governed, no longer serves its vital purpose of providing a collective voice for the entire American Jewish pro-Israel community.

In the days ahead, Reform Movement leaders will be consulting with our partners within the Conference of Presidents to decide what our next steps will be. We may choose to advocate for a significant overhaul of the Conference of Presidents' processes. We may choose to simply leave the Conference of Presidents. But this much is certain: We will no longer acquiesce to simply maintaining the facade that the Conference of Presidents represents or reflects the views of all of American Jewry.

We want to be clear: The Conference of Presidents followed its own procedures meticulously. It is, in fact, those procedures that all but dictated the result.

The member organizations of the Reform and Conservative movements, which encompass the overwhelming majority of American Jews, all voted to support J Street's admission. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents 14 national and 125 local community relations agencies, voted "yes," as did the Anti-Defamation League. Still this group was primarily "outvoted" by those that constitute the right wing of the North American Jewish community. To be sure, there is room for those at the table, but they should not be allowed to keep others from participating.

The Conference of Presidents' membership procedures also give preference to older organizations over new ones. The threshold for membership is high – a new member requires a "yes" vote of 2/3 of the current membership for admission. That challenge is exacerbated by the requirement that an applicant receive votes not just from 2/3 of those member organizations in attendance at the decision-making meeting, but of the overall Conference of Presidents membership. That means any organization that cannot – or chooses not to – attend, is counted as a "no" vote. Moreover, there is no process by which to review the existing membership. How many of the Conference of Presidents' current members would win the support of 2/3 of the membership today?

One need not always agree with J Street to recognize that its constituency is young, energetic, fast-growing, and activism-oriented. All of those qualities would be an asset to the important work of the Conference of Presidents. When I spoke last month at a J Street U "Town Hall," I was impressed by the deep commitment of its leaders to the land, state, and people of Israel. Shutting their voices out of our communal discussion only serves to expose how narrow that discussion has become.

No one is suggesting that J Street be given "veto power" over actions by the Conference of Presidents – just that they should have a place at the table. I have to wonder what those who voted against J Street yesterday are so afraid of.

Comments

Stan Fleischman

May 1, 2014
01:33 PM

Thanks for this very powerful statement.

  Reply

Eric Perlman

May 1, 2014
01:44 PM

Bravo for this opinion. While I'm not a member of a Reform congregation currently, I grew up Reform and have always been impressed with its commitment to Diversity. It's one I insist on in my current, Conservative congregation, where I'm a board member. I have also become convinced over the last decade that the far right has become far too powerful in both American Jewish politics and the pro-Israel movement. This is hurting the entire movement and Jewish causes throughout the world.

  Reply

Mike Jacobson

May 1, 2014
02:10 PM

Thank you so much Rick Jacobs for your strong statement on this.

  Reply

Josh Adler

May 1, 2014
02:30 PM

While I think the URJ was right to vote in favor of J Street, I think this is a complete overreaction.

Many who expressed concern about J Street's membership cited valid concerns, like the lack of separation between J Street and J Street PAC (which gives money to political candidates, something the Presidents Conference members all refrain from) and the very negative language J Street leaders have used about leaders of other Jewish groups. Instead of threatening to leave the Conference, a better move for the URJ would be to be a mediator between J Street and the Conference. Work with J Street on making the PAC truly independent and treating other Jewish groups more civilly, while working with potential swing votes on the Conference who could vote in favor of J Street in the near future.

Especially if these two things happened simultaneously, the URJ would be serving an indispensable role as a progressive Jewish group firmly within the communal tent.

  Reply

Larry Snider

May 1, 2014
03:03 PM

President; The Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace

Rabbi Jacobs,

You are a clear and consistent leader of the Jewish left along with the Reform Movement. J Street has come far in a few years by working within and outside the system to grow and become not only the premiere advocacy organization of the American Jewish left but an organization set out to take on and challenge the primacy of AIPAC in defining and promoting the American Jewish position on Israel. In aligning with the Obama administration J Street followed and led the administration on realizing its peace platform. But it has grown in defiance of AIPAC and not solely as a liberal alternative. I've heard the same language coming from the left re the right as the right re the left deligitimizing the alternative and with it the standing of many small and larger traditional Jewish organizations. There is fear in losing control and there is fear in the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. I believe it is time for you and your cohorts to sit down with local, regional and national leaders of AIPAC, ADL, AJC, the ZOA and others and work out a number of items that you can agree on from left to right in one Big and growing American Jewish Tent and then market them together to begin to attract and develop a new and larger constituency. That is kind what I told Jeremy briefly when I met him at a program in Philly some 18 months ago. If J Street had tried its best to do that do you think the vote would have been different?

  Reply

Basiya Abel

May 1, 2014
03:19 PM

Considering that I and probably thousands of other North American Jews have never heard of this organization (that, what, supposedly herds other Jewish organizations? Unclear), their existence seems to little to no impact on me or how I live my life as a Jew. And THAT should worry the so-called Jewish establishment more than anything else. You're all losing your institutional relevance, because large Jewish institutions in general are losing relevance with so many North American Jews. Good luck working THAT out.

  Reply

Martin E. Cobern, Ph.D.

May 1, 2014
03:21 PM

Former Presdient, Temple Beth David of Cheshire

Yesterday's vote, and the procedures of the Conference of Presidents by which it was taken, merely confirms that the organization is a sclerotic artifact of the past which no longer represents the majority of American Jews.

By setting a nearly impossible threshold (2/3) of all member organizations, even those not in attendance, the Conference insulates itself against progress. These same procedures will ultimately cause it to wither away, but unfortunately not quickly enough.

[The opinions are my own and do not reflect any official position of TBD Cheshire.]

  Reply

Steve Weisman

May 1, 2014
03:25 PM

Rabbi, Temple Solel, Bowie MD

I appreciate your firm and morally clear voice on this issue, and I agree with your assessment that yesterday's vote was more a referendum on the Conference itself than on the merits of J Street for membership. As a congregant who is VERY actively involved in Israel advocacy stated it to me "I don't often agree with J Street's positions, but I do agree that, if they have fulfilled the requirements for admission, they should be voted in."

I understand and share your frustration at the outcome, and agree that significant change is needed if the Conference is to continue to fulfill its historical purpose in a meaningful and significant manner. I also understand the implied threat of leaving the Conference, especially if utilized in conjunction with the broad-based coalition you defined in your piece, which truly DOES represent the majority of American Jews, at least on a numerical basis, is an important negotiating tool.

I would hope, however, that it would only be utilized in reality as a last resort. Just as J Street's inclusion is important to have all voices at the table, I believe our moral voice would be dramatically diluted if we allow ourselves to be backed into a corner, and actually do choose to leave the table ourselves, even in protest.

I am also concerned that the complexities of the issues here are NOT well understood within our own Reform communities, and I would encourage a significant education effort, with a feedback loop to allow you and our other leaders to hear what our own members think on this issue, as part of our strategy moving forward.

On a personal note, I would also love to be able to address factually the demographic issue when sharing this with my congregation. To that end, I would find it remarkably helpful to be able to see the breakdown of the voting on this issue. Is this something that you can provide for us in the field? If so, it will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you again for your leadership in this difficult and challenging moment.

  Reply

David Bernstein

May 1, 2014
03:47 PM

Professor

So, you are okay with the rules so long as things go your way, but decide to take the ball home when you lose (decisively?) That's some leadership! Other than the fact that Rabbi Jacobs is himself an active member of JStreet, and thus takes this as a personal slight, why would this of all things be the issue on which to try to disband/significantly reform the Conference?

  Reply

Henry Jay Karp

May 1, 2014
05:36 PM

Rabbi, Temple Emanuel of Davenport, Iowa

I recognize and appreciate how disappointed Rabbi Jacobs is at the results of the vote. Though I am not a supporter of J Street - as is Rabbi Jacobs - still I agree that they have become a "player" on the American Jewish scene and as such, deserves a seat at the table. Those who disagree with J Street should not be fearing their voice nor their vote. In the spirit of free and open dialogue they should have faith that in the end, the wiser course will prevail.

However, I am disturbed by Rabbi Jacobs raising the specter of a URJ withdrawal from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Our community truly needs a forum in which the American Jewish community can raise a voice of unity on many of the issues and challenges that face us, not all of which involve the State of Israel. By withdrawing from this organization we do not further but rather undermine that unity. The day after one vote did not go his way, Rabbi Jacobs sadly sounds like one of those disgruntled synagogue board members who threatens to quit the board and even the congregation because of the outcome of one particular vote by the board. I tell my board members, "Listen. You win some. You lose some. And some get rained out So it is with institutional voting. There are issues you win, issues you lose, and some issues you feel should not even be up for consideration. So enjoy your wins and swallow your losses, realizing that when you are winning, there may be someone else who is losing, and you hope that they will lose graciously."

Perhaps Rabbi Jacobs is right, that the problem is in the structure of the Conference. In that case, I hope that he and others will work within the organization to transform that structure into one that is more just.

  Reply

Herman Schvarcz

May 1, 2014
05:43 PM

J-Street vs Americans for Peace Now

Americans for Pease Now is just as left as J-street and they are part of the conference.

The diferrence is J-Street contributes to political campaigns(lobbying group) therefor just as Norpac is not part of the conference J-street should be excluded.

  Reply

Stephan Cotton

May 1, 2014
07:33 PM

As always, I'm terribly proud to be part of the URJ and its strong stands for what's right. Keep up the good work

  Reply

Joseph Kaufman

May 1, 2014
08:31 PM

The fact that Rabbi Jacobs issued this statement not personally, but in his position as URJ President, particularly without disclosing his longstanding affiliation with J Street is inappropriate.

  Reply

bobby bresler

May 1, 2014
08:35 PM

as a lifelong member of Reform congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport ct. and a member of J Street, I am heartened by Rabbi Jacobs' strong stand, and thank him for his leadership.

  Reply

Edward Davidson

May 1, 2014
09:09 PM

Ann Arbor, MI

Thank you Rabbi Jacobs. It is high time that AIPAC and their fellow travelers no longer be recognized as the voice of American Jews. If rational voices like yours are recognized as representing the majority of American Jews, we may find that the younger generations of American Jews may no longer think of Judaism as irrelevant to their lives.

  Reply

Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein

May 1, 2014
09:12 PM

Sec'ty, Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din

I thoroughly support my colleague Rick Jacobs' statement in response to the denial of J Street's admission to Council of Presidents of American Jewish organizations. It is absurd to pretend that J Street is not a valid organization of Jews who love and care for the State of Israel. Their voice should obviously be heard within the tent of organized Zionism. Hurrah for Rabbi Jacobs' stand for inclusion. The URJ should be proud of his stance!

  Reply

Marc Silverstein

May 1, 2014
09:44 PM

I encourage you to continue URJ's participation in Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and work from within for change.

  Reply

Boris Kofman

May 1, 2014
10:01 PM

Thank you for standing up for inclusion! Perhaps the organizations that voted No should recall the history of exclusion of our people.

  Reply

Randall Frank

May 1, 2014
10:45 PM

So let me get this straight: J Street doesn't qualify because it is a PAC that supports political candidates, whereas AIPAC is a full member of the Conference of Presidents because it isn't a PAC? The fact that showing up at various AIPAC meetings to profess support of Israel by virtually all national political candidates is de rigueur is de facto recognition of AIPAC's role as a PAC. To pretend that AIPAC isn't a PAC (it's even in it's name) is the most non-sensical thing I've heard in a long time. By the way, how did AIPAC vote on the J-Street question?

  Reply

brent bleier, syracuse,new york

May 1, 2014
11:51 PM

formerly of bridgeport


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
as a lifelong member of Reform congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport ct. and a member of J Street, I am heartened by Rabbi Jacobs' strong stand, and thank him for his leadership.



I agree that we need to appreciate, welcome , and support Rabbi Jacobs.

  Reply

WilliamAnderson

May 2, 2014
12:25 AM

Thank you for standing for a diversity of opinions

  Reply

Harry Levy

May 2, 2014
05:12 AM

URJ NAB Member

It should be noted that AIPAC (which IS a PAC, not just associated with one) is a member of the conference.


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
While I think the URJ was right to vote in favor of J Street, I think this is a complete overreaction.

Many who expressed concern about J Street's membership cited valid concerns, like the lack of separation between J Street and J Street PAC (which gives money to political candidates, something the Presidents Conference members all refrain from) and the very negative language J Street leaders have used about leaders of other Jewish groups. Instead of threatening to leave the Conference, a better move for the URJ would be to be a mediator between J Street and the Conference. Work with J Street on making the PAC truly independent and treating other Jewish groups more civilly, while working with potential swing votes on the Conference who could vote in favor of J Street in the near future.

Especially if these two things happened simultaneously, the URJ would be serving an indispensable role as a progressive Jewish group firmly within the communal tent.

  Reply

Richard Steinberg

May 2, 2014
08:46 AM

Please don't leave the Council. There is too much divisiveness already.

  Reply

Yochanan Hardisty

May 2, 2014
08:59 AM

I served in the IDF,and I am a Veteran of the Yom Kippor War. I am also a member of J Street. As Israel becomes more and more,isolated,and more dependent on the support on the loony fringe here in the US. While in Israel,Our Own religious fanatics in the Greater Israel Movement,engage in 'prize tagging' Israeli-Arab homes,cars,cutting down olive trees,and other examples of racial hatred,I must ask. As a proud Jew,I must ask a basic question. What kind of a Jewish State are we going to have when the majority of the population of the State of Israel is no longer Jewish??

  Reply

Cindy Marcus

May 2, 2014
01:45 PM

The Truth about J-Street and AIPAC, etc.

Although AIPAC's initials are confusing, AIPAC is NOT a PAC (a political action committee). AIPAC stands for "American Israel Public Affairs Committee." JStreet-PAC is a PAC (a political action committee which raises funds for candidates.)

Unfortunately, J-Street-PAC raises money for anti-Israel candidates, and to defeat Israel's staunchest allies in Congress. J-Street has "successfully" defeated many of Israel's best friends in Congress. So the fact that there are no PACs (political action committees that raise funds for candidates) in the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations is only part of the story. The fact that J-Street-PAC uses its funds to defeat pro-Israel candidates is an important and good reason why J-Street was properly rejected from the Conference of Presidents.

Rabbi Jacobs' statement that a large number of "small" "right-wing" organizations defeated J-Street is not accurate. The organizations that defeated J-Street included large centrist organizations. J-Street was defeated because many groups could not stomach J-Street bringing speakers that promote Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) and speakers that defame Israel and the IDF to its conferences and college campuses, J-Street's support for the Goldstone Report which falsely accused Israel of war crimes, J-Street's financial support for anti-Israel candidates, J-Street's false press releases falsely accusing Israel of murdering Palestinian civilians, J-Street's collaboratiom with anti-Israel groups such as "Students for Justice in Palestine," J-Street's funding by and collaboration with Iranian regime group NIAC (the National Iranian American Council), J-Street's lobbying against sanctions on Iran, and more. A J-Street speaker even called anyone who does not simply "trust" the Iranian regime "fundamentally racist."

A just days before the vote, J-Street agreed with Kerry's "apartheid" accusations against Israel. I'm sure that this did not help J-Street's "case" for admission to the conference either. J-Street is hostile to Israel and has no business being in the Conference.

One of the Conference of Presidents' main purposes is mobilizing support to stop Iran's nuclear weapons (which are an existential threat to America and Israel and every freedom-loving nation). J-Street is diametrically opposed to the Conference's purposes.

Rabbi Jacobs was booed by J-Street when he criticized the Goldstone report. It seems that Rabbi Jacobs forgot that. I do not understand why Rabbi Jacobs supports such a heinous organization, even to the point of threatening to leave the Conference.

And last week, J-Street essentially promoted agressively pushing a framework for a Hamas-Fatah (terrorist) Palestinian State. If the policies that J-Street promotes were adopted, there would be no Israel.

It's interesting that not one of the comments on here mentions J-Street's plethora of anti-Israel activities and that J-Street is in bed with Iranian regime organization NIAC. (In addition to constantly inviting NIAC speakers, J-Street receives funds from NIAC board member Gevenieve Lynch) . I hope that readers will look into J-Street's record, so that they too will understand why J-Street does not belong in the Conference of Presidents.

  Reply

Jon Zonderman

May 2, 2014
04:34 PM

RE: Rabbi, Temple Emanuel of Davenport, Iowa

Rabbi Karp: Sad to say, maybe, but there is no such thing as Jewish unity. It's time to admit that and move on. The conference seems to have outlived its purpose.


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
I recognize and appreciate how disappointed Rabbi Jacobs is at the results of the vote. Though I am not a supporter of J Street - as is Rabbi Jacobs - still I agree that they have become a "player" on the American Jewish scene and as such, deserves a seat at the table. Those who disagree with J Street should not be fearing their voice nor their vote. In the spirit of free and open dialogue they should have faith that in the end, the wiser course will prevail.

However, I am disturbed by Rabbi Jacobs raising the specter of a URJ withdrawal from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Our community truly needs a forum in which the American Jewish community can raise a voice of unity on many of the issues and challenges that face us, not all of which involve the State of Israel. By withdrawing from this organization we do not further but rather undermine that unity. The day after one vote did not go his way, Rabbi Jacobs sadly sounds like one of those disgruntled synagogue board members who threatens to quit the board and even the congregation because of the outcome of one particular vote by the board. I tell my board members, "Listen. You win some. You lose some. And some get rained out So it is with institutional voting. There are issues you win, issues you lose, and some issues you feel should not even be up for consideration. So enjoy your wins and swallow your losses, realizing that when you are winning, there may be someone else who is losing, and you hope that they will lose graciously."

Perhaps Rabbi Jacobs is right, that the problem is in the structure of the Conference. In that case, I hope that he and others will work within the organization to transform that structure into one that is more just.

  Reply

Jon Zonderman

May 2, 2014
04:41 PM

member, Temple Emanuel, Orange CT

The conference seems to have outlived its usefulness. It has become, like so many other organizations, captive to its most angry voices. If it could throw out Americans for Peace Now (and maybe it can, I don't know the bylaws) there would (or will in the near future) be a move afoot to do so. Should URJ remain and become relegated to a "rump?" status as the test of "Jewishness" becomes purity of thought on Israel? I don't know, but it could be time to move on and form a coalition of those who still seek open dialogue.

  Reply

ethelle shatz

May 2, 2014
04:51 PM

Thanks for the statement position--there are some of us in our 80's who are also members of J street


  Reply

Ronit Jacobs

May 2, 2014
05:00 PM

Let's induct Jewish Voice for Peace as well

We had a vote and the vote was clear. Threatening to leave as a result demonstrates a lack of character and poor leadership. Rabbi Jacob's idea of how far to expand our tent was rejected. Perhaps we should expand to include Jewish Voice for Peace or Neturei Karta for that matter. They too have a Jewish voice. J-Street's views; to consistently publicly criticize and hold Israel solely accountable, to dictate policy for Israel and to divide the Jewish American voice has been rejected. Accept it and move on.

  Reply

Michael Goodman

May 2, 2014
05:01 PM

Leaving Council A Bad Idea

I believe the Conference of Presidents vote was wrong, however I believe it represents a strong opinion of many of its member organizations that J-Street is "not ready for prime time" and that J-Street's criticism of Israel immediately following the failure of the peace process was ill-founded and rankled many who vote a couple days after the whole works collapsed.

Regardless, I think it is only a matter of time before J-Street is accepted into this significant organization and that American Jewish unity is of paramount importance -- the whole here being stronger than the sum of its parts.

Leaving the Conference would be a bad idea in that it would create a schism amongst American Jews when it is possible to avoid one. Moreover leaving would act as an endorsement of J-Street's policies, which, in my opinion, doesn't represent the majority of Reform American Jews. I think everybody needs to count to ten here, and do nothing until they do...

  Reply

Ed Smith

May 2, 2014
06:02 PM

I am a member of two Reform synagogues and I was disturbed that the leadership of the Reform Movement come out so strongly for J Street. ZOA made it very clear that J Street is not for Israel, doesn't support the govt of Israel and is nonzionist. J Street actively undermines Israel. Jacobs continues the old Reform Movement's nonzionist stance from years ago. Shame on him and the Reform Movement.

  Reply

Betty Benson

May 2, 2014
11:17 PM

Ms.

I would say that the reasons given for denying JStreet admission is actually a refusal to accept any policy of JStreet that is not in strict conformity to those of the Presidents Conference. In other words - diversity of thought is not welcome. Comments by JStreet about AIPAC are in your favor, as AIPAC is a definite anathema to the principles of peace and against the will of the American Jewish community. Are you against the will of the American Jewish community and in fact the Israeli Jewish community?



Originally posted by Anonymous User:
While I think the URJ was right to vote in favor of J Street, I think this is a complete overreaction.

Many who expressed concern about J Street's membership cited valid concerns, like the lack of separation between J Street and J Street PAC (which gives money to political candidates, something the Presidents Conference members all refrain from) and the very negative language J Street leaders have used about leaders of other Jewish groups. Instead of threatening to leave the Conference, a better move for the URJ would be to be a mediator between J Street and the Conference. Work with J Street on making the PAC truly independent and treating other Jewish groups more civilly, while working with potential swing votes on the Conference who could vote in favor of J Street in the near future.

Especially if these two things happened simultaneously, the URJ would be serving an indispensable role as a progressive Jewish group firmly within the communal tent.

  Reply

Betty Benson

May 2, 2014
11:22 PM

RE: President; The Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace

I wholly agree with these comments. JStreet is the only organization representing main stream thought to attain peace! What is wrong with that? Israeli Jews and Palestinians need peace and organizations that speak with one voice - not constantly in conflict over nonsensical issues.


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
Rabbi Jacobs,

You are a clear and consistent leader of the Jewish left along with the Reform Movement. J Street has come far in a few years by working within and outside the system to grow and become not only the premiere advocacy organization of the American Jewish left but an organization set out to take on and challenge the primacy of AIPAC in defining and promoting the American Jewish position on Israel. In aligning with the Obama administration J Street followed and led the administration on realizing its peace platform. But it has grown in defiance of AIPAC and not solely as a liberal alternative. I've heard the same language coming from the left re the right as the right re the left deligitimizing the alternative and with it the standing of many small and larger traditional Jewish organizations. There is fear in losing control and there is fear in the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. I believe it is time for you and your cohorts to sit down with local, regional and national leaders of AIPAC, ADL, AJC, the ZOA and others and work out a number of items that you can agree on from left to right in one Big and growing American Jewish Tent and then market them together to begin to attract and develop a new and larger constituency. That is kind what I told Jeremy briefly when I met him at a program in Philly some 18 months ago. If J Street had tried its best to do that do you think the vote would have been different?

  Reply

Karen J.P.Eaves

May 3, 2014
03:03 AM

RE: Professor

Thank you for this sensible response to the Reform mvt's over-reaction to losing a vote fair and square.


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
So, you are okay with the rules so long as things go your way, but decide to take the ball home when you lose (decisively?) That's some leadership! Other than the fact that Rabbi Jacobs is himself an active member of JStreet, and thus takes this as a personal slight, why would this of all things be the issue on which to try to disband/significantly reform the Conference?

  Reply

Robert Mykoff

May 4, 2014
02:57 PM

I was only 5 yrs old at the time of the '67 war, so I'll quote a great post below from an Israeli veteran: "I served in the IDF, and I am a Veteran of the Yom Kippor War. I am also a member of J Street." He went on to mention Israel's isolation politically AND this is what it's *all about* : political isolation.

So : are we afraid of our kids' dialogue---we the Jews who fought for thousands of years FOR freedom to debate, to struggle for progress.
Freedom of speech is not free if you play games that slowly BUT SURELY DETERIORATE Jewish voices.
Are we going to isolate Israel in world debate AND now our own kids & younger voices ?
--THANK you Rabbi Jacobs ;

IF we as Jewish organizations are so *cowardly* that we cannot allow our OWN kids to voice honest facts & dialogue, WHAT have we become?

  Reply

Martin A. Dyckman

May 5, 2014
09:21 AM

I applaud your statement and recommend--strongly--that you exercise the option of withdrawing from the Conference. That is the only way to demonstrate to the nation, to the world and--most importantly--to political policy-makers in the United States that the Conference is the captive of a few voices and does not speak for the majority of American Jews.

  Reply

Betty Reuben

May 5, 2014
05:46 PM

Thank you for your inciteful words re the vote taken yesterday to reject J Street's application. I am very proud to be a part of a group who stands up for the rights of others to speak their mind As you pointed out we do not have to agree with everything they stand for to give them permission to voice their opinion.

  Reply

m. berg

May 6, 2014
01:07 AM

I believe a significant percentage of Reform members will no longer feel comfortable with continuing support of the Reform movement if this misguided threat of leaving the Conference becomes reality. This is a political issue- religious organizations should keep there focus on just that- and not become political activists which only results in dividing (our) people, who face too many enemies. Too high a price to pay for such a arguably "principled" stance.

  Reply

David Fox

May 6, 2014
09:33 AM

Member of Two Reform Congregations

Rick Jacobs has no right to impose his left wing pro J Street position on the entire reform movement. J Streets positions and actions show it to be an anti- Zionist and anti- Israel organization as outlined in the following article:
http://zoa.org/2013/04/10196411-zoa-report-j-street-siding-with-israels-enemies/

  Reply

David Fox

May 6, 2014
09:46 AM

RE: Rabbi, Temple Solel, Bowie MD


I am a member of two Reform congregations and I agree that J Street should not have a seat at the table. Unlike other members organizations, J - Street provides money to the campaigns of candidates that are anti- Israel. As long as J-Street continues to fund these candidates, J- Street IMHO is also Anti- Israel. Please see this article: http://zoa.org/2013/04/10196411-zoa-report-j-street-siding-with-israels-enemies/

  Reply

David Fox

May 6, 2014
10:02 AM

Member of Two Reform Congregations


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
So let me get this straight: J Street doesn't qualify because it is a PAC that supports political candidates, whereas AIPAC is a full member of the Conference of Presidents because it isn't a PAC? The fact that showing up at various AIPAC meetings to profess support of Israel by virtually all national political candidates is de rigueur is de facto recognition of AIPAC's role as a PAC. To pretend that AIPAC isn't a PAC (it's even in it's name) is the most non-sensical thing I've heard in a long time. By the way, how did AIPAC vote on the J-Street question?



While AIPAC is in fact a PAC, it does not contribute money to candidates of either party. On the other hand, the J- Street PAC does contribute money to political candidates, some of whom have taken very anti-Israel positions in Congress.

  Reply

David Fox

May 6, 2014
10:05 AM

RE: The Truth about J-Street and AIPAC, etc.


Cindy, you hit the nail right on the head. I agree completely with what you said.

  Reply

David Fox

May 6, 2014
10:08 AM

RE: Let's induct Jewish Voice for Peace as well


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
We had a vote and the vote was clear. Threatening to leave as a result demonstrates a lack of character and poor leadership. Rabbi Jacob's idea of how far to expand our tent was rejected. Perhaps we should expand to include Jewish Voice for Peace or Neturei Karta for that matter. They too have a Jewish voice. J-Street's views; to consistently publicly criticize and hold Israel solely accountable, to dictate policy for Israel and to divide the Jewish American voice has been rejected. Accept it and move on.



Amen

  Reply

Albert Linder

May 8, 2014
09:39 PM

Temple Sinai, Stamford, CT

J Street cares nothing about Israel, in fact it is a mouthpiece for that part of Judaism that wants nothing to do with Israel. It was formed by George Soros who Detests Israel and was looking for a "Jewish" voice to delegitimize Israel. Every action by Jstreet has been to undermine Israel and help Obama browbeat Israel into submission, from negotiations with the PA to stopping Iran's Nuclear weapons program. There is nothing Pro-Israel at Jstreet. You do not speak for me.

  Reply

Karin Schultz

May 8, 2014
11:46 PM

J-Street is an anti-Zionist organization funded by the anti-Israel George Soros. It takes an active part in spreading lies about Israel, such as the infamous Goldstone Report. Rabbi Jacobs says he wants a 'big tent,' but really he wants His tent, one in which groups he considers right wing are disenfranchised, and which groups which share his politics are privileged. Jewish unity requires tolerating being out-voted, not threatening to destroy Jewish cooperation entirely when you don't get your way. Tyranny of the majority, which is what Rabbi Jacobs wants as a method to silence Jews who disagree with him, will destroy our tenuous cooperation on those issues around which we have united successfully for years. Rabbi Jacobs is threatening a vital and longstanding Jewish institution that gives us a place to agree and unite and be effective. How destructive and short-sighted.

  Reply

Brian Grodman

May 10, 2014
08:05 AM

J Street divisiveness

I am sad to read this letter from Rabbi Jacobs. Why must he mention "right wing" in the fifth paragraph? The support of Israel, since 1948, used to be comprehensive. Jacobs is merely having a political convulsion. Instead, he and the URJ should work to strengthen the education and support of Israel for the membership. This national membership has been in a steady decline for years. It would serve Jews in the Diaspora and Israel very well if Jacobs worked within the Conference to strengthen a cohesive Jewish voice and not increase divisiveness by exposing his political liberalism. The URJ support of Israel should not rest upon a political leaning.

  Reply

Ruth Raisfeld

May 10, 2014
12:53 PM

Don't leave Conference because J Street lost a vote this time

I love you Rabbi Jacobs and admire your ability to make change. However, leaving the Conference which has done so much good over so many years to make the "Jewish" message understood by our U.S. government officials as well as other predominantly non-Jewish players on the world stage only further divides the American Jews and makes a mockery of collaboration and democracy. Don't talk about a "big tent" and then leave when the "tent" doesn't cover your opinion on a single vote. If the vote were different, by 5 votes, would the Conference then meet your litmus test? This is not leadership and sends the wrong message to our people who look to you for wisdom, patience, and diplomacy.

  Reply

Roger Goldwyn

May 11, 2014
06:35 AM

RE: Professor


Originally posted by Anonymous User:
So, you are okay with the rules so long as things go your way, but decide to take the ball home when you lose (decisively?) That's some leadership! Other than the fact that Rabbi Jacobs is himself an active member of JStreet, and thus takes this as a personal slight, why would this of all things be the issue on which to try to disband/significantly reform the Conference?



I agree. Rabbi Jacobs' position can lead to fracturing of the reformed Jewish community. I am not opposed tp J street expressing ideas but they go beyond this and criticize others who disagree with them. They rarely if ever present both sides of an argument. Only their position. They try to stifle dialog. Also, who gave Rabbi Jacobs the right to speak for URC without consulting members on such an important issue?

  Reply


Comments left on this website are monitored. By posting a comment you are in agreement with Terms & Conditions.
 
Multimedia Icon Multimedia:  Photos  |  Videos  |  Podcasts  |  Webinars
Bookmark and Share About Us  |  Careers  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright Union for Reform Judaism 2011.  All Rights Reserved