URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs On Charlottesville

Inside Leadership

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs On Charlottesville

We Condemn Neo-Nazi Hate Speech and Call For an End to Violence; But Moral Equivalence of Violence and Hate 'On Many Sides' Is Troubling

Press Release

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

August 12, 2017; New York, NY -- Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued this statement in response to the deadly violence at the white supremacist hate march in Charlottesville, VA: 

The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages. 

Racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views have no place in a society that cherishes freedom and liberty for all. The right to speak and to hold repugnant views is not a right to circumscribe the ability of others to live in peace and security. Torch-lit marches of hate evoke the KKK; the image of a heavily armed “militia” standing among the neo-Nazi protestors should send an alarm to every person of good conscience in our nation.

Once again hate has killed; we mourn the loss of life and those injured in the violence. We call on all, no matter what their views, to eschew violence and condemn in the strongest terms the car attack that killed and injured protestors.

We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate “on many sides.” If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it.

As we bid farewell to the Sabbath, we pray that the week to come will be filled with calm and safety, and that those who have committed crimes will be brought to justice.

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The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

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