Jewish Clergy Organize for Peace and Justice
By Rabbis John Friedman and Julie Saxe-Taller, Rabbinic Cabinet

Among the most extraordinary aspects of Brit Tzedek's work has been the deep involvement of rabbis and cantors. We have put considerable effort into organizing Jewish spiritual leaders across the nation and they have become one of our key constituencies.

Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet is at the forefront of a sea-change in American Jewish thought, providing support and encouragement for U.S. Jewish clergy to take active leadership in working for Israeli-Palestinian peace within their synagogues, in their local communities, in Jewish organizations, and more. More than one thousand rabbis and cantors are in our network of Jewish clergy, building a community of support and guidance in playing a leadership role on this issue. Below we share some of our successes during the past year; we need your to help us to continue this important work.  Please donate now.

All of this work is absolutely vital to the cause of creating a just and sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The nature of the issues that Brit Tzedek faces often raises painful questions and real fears.  Naturally, many in our community turn to their spiritual leaders to guide them as they seek their own path. The Rabbinic Cabinet, and the daily work of Brit Tzedek as a whole, keeps rabbis and cantors around the country informed about peace efforts. This is absolutely vital to create a communal space in which Jews can feel safe  advocating for peace and justice, in ways to bring about concrete movement towards a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As we close out the year, we thought it important to share with you a brief description of some of the most significant activities of our Rabbinic Cabinet in 2007.  As you make your year-end giving decisions, we urge you to make a donation to support these important efforts.

  • In November we launched "Kindle the Lights of Peace," an urgent Call to the American Jewish community, and the presidential candidates to do everything possible to create a new negotiating process that will lead to a just and durable solution to decades of bloodshed and despair. The petition was signed by 528 members of the Jewish clergy, from across the denominational spectrum. Its publication in the Forward created an enormous response, helping many to appreciate what our spiritual leaders have long understood: Making peace with the Palestinians is an essentially Jewish pursuit.

  • Four rabbis from Brit Tzedek's Cabinet appeared on nine talk shows including Air America and Talk Radio America to discuss the Rabbinic Call.  Cabinet and board member Rabbi Scott Weiner had an op-ed on the campaign published in the Baltimore Jewish Times.

  • Before the High Holidays, we provided backgrounders and current event updates, as well as sample sermons for use at the time of year at which rabbis are likely to be speaking to enormous crowds. 

  • We organized rabbinic delegations to meet with their members of Congress. Within weeks of receiving a California Brit Tzedek rabbinic delegation in her offices, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Sen. Lugar (R-IN) introduced a powerful resolution (now S.Res.321) that calls for active U.S. engagement in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

  • In June, Brit Tzedek released "A Rabbinic Guide to 40 years of Occupation," putting information and ideas at rabbis' fingertips to help them guide conversations among congregants about the aftermath of the 1967 war and its lasting impact on the region. 

  • We developed a resource list of peace-oriented tours for congregational delegations to Israel, as well as tours with peace organizations in Israel, peace-oriented birthright tours, and New Israel Fund trips.

  • The Rabbinic Cabinet regularly distributes sermons and educational materials on peace-related themes to aid rabbis and cantors as they communicate a peace message to their congregations. Most recently we shared pre- and post-Annapolis sample sermons.

And so we turn to you, and ask that you please help us to continue this crucial work with a generous donation.  Please donate now.

After seven years, peace negotiations have  just  begun. The Israeli Prime Minister admits that deep changes must be made and the American President is finally engaged in substantive efforts to resolve the conflict with his first trip to Israel scheduled in early January.. All this is occurring as a Presidential campaign signals very significant possible change down the road.  The activities of Brit Tzedek's rabbis and cantors are more important than ever!

We in Brit Tzedek stand at the forefront of peace efforts among American Jewry, and we know that you stand with us. Now is the moment to support the work of the rabbis and cantors of Brit Tzedek, so that we may all look back in pride and say "we helped make it happen." Please donate now.

Rabbi John Friedman serves as national chair of Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet. He was also the founding chair of the Durham/Chapel Hill chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and serves on its national board.

Friedman has been rabbi of Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, North Carolina for twenty-six years. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1976.

Rabbi Friedman attended rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and has visited Israel frequently since.  In 1997, he was part of a delegation of rabbis that met with Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah.

Rabbi Friedman attended the University of Kansas, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Harvard University where he was a Charles Merrill Fellow in 1994.  He received a doctorate from the Hebrew Union College. His articles on Bible, Jewish literature, Jewish education, and Black-Jewish relations have been published in a variety of journals. 

Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller serves as co-chair of Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet, and as a board member of the Bay Area chapter of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, a organization dedicated to asserting a progressive Jewish presence in social and economic justice campaigns. She is the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, California.

Before becoming a rabbi, she worked in Jewish high school education, and directed a Jewish living and community service program for teenagers.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

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