Violence in Paris Condemned; Religious Freedom Must Be a Principle Valued by All

New York, NY January 9, 2015 - In response to the terror in Paris this week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Like others around the world, we have watched with horror and shock at the events this week in Paris where terrorists have taken lives, sown fear throughout the city, and attacked the values of free speech that are foundational to free and open societies. Today we are also praying for strength for those who were held hostage in a kosher supermarket and elsewhere, and for the comfort for the families of all those who have been killed.

The words of Leviticus (19:16) admonish us: "Do not stand idly by while your neighbor's blood is shed." Religious freedom and diversity are at the core of strong and healthy communities. In too many nations across Europe, those principles are threatened from multiple sides. We call on all national, communal and faith leaders to condemn religious intolerance and violence, and to take the difficult but necessary steps needed to build relationships rooted in mutual respect and understanding.

On this Shabbat, the holiest day of the Jewish week, we come together as a community to pray for the lives of those who were brutally murdered in France, journalists, Jews, Muslims, police officers -- all French citizens who were going about their daily lives. We pray tonight for those whose voices were silenced.

As it is written in the Gates of Prayer, "We pray for winds to disperse the choking air of sadness, for cleansing rains to make parched hopes flower, and to give all of us the strength to rise up toward the sun."