Reform Jewish Leader Addresses Protest Against Proposed Judicial Reforms in Tel Aviv

On Saturday evening, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, addressed a crowd of over 160,000 people demonstrating against the proposed judicial overhauls in Tel Aviv. Delivering his remarks in Hebrew, Rabbi Jacobs told protestors that Jews across the diaspora shared their concerns about proposed changes to Israel’s democracy and would continue to stand with them in solidarity.

Watch Rabbi Jacobs’s speech at the protest below.


Rabbi Jacobs’s remarks translated to English:

Good evening and Shavua Tov. My name is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, I lead the Reform Movement in North America, which represents over two million Reform Jews.

We regularly show up at rallies for Israel which take place in the U.S. and Canada whenever Israel is threatened. Israel is threatened today, only this time we are here in Israel, with you, to fight the threats to Israel’s democracy.

   אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם

The Torah is quite clear-כֻּלְּכֶם -means ALL of us are bound together.

נִצָּבִים –This is not time to sit quietly and wait but rather it is a time to raise our voices and stand strong.

I'm here with over 250 Zionist Reform rabbis, who belong to the largest Zionist organization in North America. Every day we fight against those who delegitimize Israel. Every day we stand our ground on behalf of the special relationship between the United States and Israel -a relationship based in no small measure on our shared values of democracy and human rights.

Chaverim/haverot, your diaspora siblings stand in solidarity with all of you tonight.

We love this place.

We love the people – All of you!
And we're here out of solidarity and out of concern, a concern shared by the vast majority of Diaspora Jews.

The Israel we love is Jewish AND democratic.

We can’t imagine a Jewish State that isn’t democratic but unfortunately there are those who can.

We’re deeply concerned about proposed changes to Israel’s democracy. With only 61 votes the Knesset could override the rights of millions such as the LGBTQ community, women, Palestinian Citizens of Israel and Reform and Conservative Jews.

We know how precarious it can be to live as a minority. But we also know that our concepts of equal rights for all, our rule of law, our independent courts --our democracy—is what protect us.

If you think about the way in which Iron Dome protects from missiles, the Supreme Court protects human rights. And we must do everything to ensure the democratic foundations of this great country. 

Threats to Israel’s democracy threaten Israeli's standing in the global community of democratic nations. Threats to Israel’s democracy also threaten the well-being of the global Jewish people, who confront growing antisemtism. 

We will never turn back or walk away from this place we love. We’re going to lean in even harder and fight for the values of this country alongside all of you. 

In the name of Judaism, we will guard our democracy!