Clergy Organize for Peace and
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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