Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Inside Leadership
sunrise

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, many of us are grappling with a newfound vulnerability. It is natural to worry about our families and communities as we confront a major crisis and the question of how a community ought to respond to serious danger comes up throughout our sacred texts.

Last week, we celebrated Purim, the quintessential tale of Jewish defense. Our people have often been a fragile minority and it would be tempting for the Purim narrative to reign supreme: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s celebrate.”

But our tradition’s true master story will in fact be...

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Hands holding a glowing globe

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 Union for Reform Judaism Biennial.

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., the oldest synagogue in the United States, the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good...

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Rabbi Jonah Pesner standing at a podium addressing the URJ Biennial with two other speakers on each side of him

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial.

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., the oldest synagogue in the U. S., the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all...

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A man and two women standing at a podium

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center, made the following remarks at the 2019 URJ Biennial in Chicago. 

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in the U. S., the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean...

Read More

  Photo by Andre Chungfor The Washington Post of TaNehisi Coates who wrote The Case for Reparations

Americans in general and faith groups in particular increasingly find ourselves reckoning with our nation’s bigoted history and struggling with how to dismantle the racist systems and structures that persist to this day. As the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, it’s time for the Reform movement to join this conversation. It’s time for us to talk reparations.

When I first read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking article "The Case for Reparations," I thought of a blessing that I, like many Jews, have said so many times throughout my life, including to...

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