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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Another Rabbinic Letter, This One For Peace: 700 Rabbis for Chicagos Brit Tzedek Call for Urgent Focus on Mideast

The Chicago Jewish Star

October 10, 2008

By Gila Wertheimer

Following right on the heels of a letter of support issued last montht by the newly-formed Rabbis for Obama, a second rabbinic letter—this one directed to both presidential candidates—was released just prior to Rosh Hashanah.

These two independent initiatives show “that rabbis are an important moral and political force in the community,” Aliza Becker told the Jewish Star this week.

Becker is deputy director of the Chicago-based group Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, whose Rabinic Cabinet initiated the second letter. At the same time, they were unfamiliar with the effort of Rabbis for Obama, she said.

While he Rabbis for Obama letter, which also was started by Chicago-area rabbis, aimed to counteract negative material that has been circulated about the Senator (Jewish Star, Sept. 19), the Brit Tzedek v’Shalom letter urges the candidates to make resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a priority in the next administration.

This second letter has been signed  by nearly 700 clergy, including cantors and rabbinic seminary students. Rabbis for Obama was signed by some 400 rabbis.

At press time, 32 Chicago-area clergy had signed on to the Brit Tzedek v’Shalom letter. The Rabbis for Obama letter had 31 rabbis from the Chicago area.

In both initiatives, the vast majority of supporters are affiliated with the Reform movement.

While acknowledging that the new president will face “a long list of problems”, the Brit Tzedek v’Shalom letter calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “among the most urgent.”

It goes on to offer support for its resolution: “As Jewish clergy, we pledge to mobilize our people behind your leadership for a mutually-acceptable, two-state solution. We pledge to support you through difficult, trying times….”

An Israeli-Palestinian peace, the letter states, is “in the best interests of Israel and the United States.”

The letter urges three initiatives by the new president: to call “unequivocally” for the creation of a Palestinian stte in his first term; to support a high-level envoy to the region in the first 100 days; to create mechanisms that will ensure any agreements are carried out.

Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, was founded in Chicago in 2002. Nationally, members and supporters number 38,000, with 1,595 in Chicago.

The group calls itself the largest “Jewish grassroots peace movement” in the country.

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