Los Angeles — The Rabbinic and Clergy Council of the group Jews United for Democracy and Justice (JUDJ) released the following response to the tragedy in Charlottesville and the Administration’s responses to it. JUDJ is a broad cross-section of more than 2,000 prominent Jewish leaders in Los Angeles. The JUDJ Rabbinic and Clergy Council is comprised of more than 120 rabbis and clergy across the region.
Jews United for Democracy and Justice (JUDJ)* is outraged by the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
We are especially appalled by the terrorist attack that murdered Heather Heyer, a young activist, and injured 19 others. We mourn as well the deaths of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, Virginia State Troopers who died in the crash of the support helicopter that had been patrolling the demonstrations in Charlottesville.
We stand firmly with those who condemn hate, racism, antisemitism and homophobia, and we pray for the full recovery of the victims of this horrible violence.
It is rare nowadays that any story appearing in the news could unite us as a country instead of polarizing us further. But in the aftermath of the vile attack in Charlottesville, enemies of hatred from across the political spectrum have found their unity. Prominent Republicans, Democrats and Independents have joined in condemning the bigots and in repudiating the moral equivocation of the President of the United States.
To the President, we say: “Many sides” did not commit murder this past Saturday… only one did.
We know full well that “you will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us” is directed at us and at those we love, as well as at countless Americans of different races, ethnicities and nationalities. This is a fight for our own safety and security, no less than for the well-being of other embattled minorities. This is a fight for which all Americans must be willing to risk comfort, convenience and possibly even life itself – for history has taught us again and again what happens when we don’t.
As Jews, we know what it is like to feel the heel of oppression press down upon our necks.
As Jews, we know what it is like to live in fear for our lives when a deadly combination of government sanction and mob mentality runs through the streets.
As Jews, we are commanded to “not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” The pain and suffering of the oppressed is felt as our own pain and suffering at every moment.
As Americans, we join in fidelity with those who aspire to liberty and prosperity.
As Americans, we uphold the sacred patriotic freedom to congregate peacefully, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech.
As Americans, we also know that we must continue to combat the structural racism that plagues our nation if we hope to make America a “more perfect union.”
We call upon federal officials, especially President Donald Trump, to make clear their condemnation of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist and alt-right movements for fomenting hatred and fanning the flames of violence that led to a nonviolent protestor’s murder.
We call upon the community to join with us in standing up and speaking out because the only way to defeat organized hate is with organized love.
JUDJ Clergy Council
*Jews United for Democracy and Justice (JUDJ) is a collaboration of a broad cross-section of Los Angeles Jews united to safeguard the principles and foundations of our constitutional democracy. JUDJ is deeply concerned about rising threats to religious tolerance, equal rights, a free and fair press, human dignity, and long-held norms of decency and civil society.
The JUDJ Rabbinic and Clergy Council is comprised of more than 120 rabbis and clergy who represent a broad cross-section of Los Angeles Jewry led by Rabbi Ken Chasen of Leo Baeck Temple and Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom.