JUDJ Rabbinic and Clergy Council Statement in Response to the Tragedy in Charlottesville

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.

Continue reading “JUDJ Rabbinic and Clergy Council Statement in Response to the Tragedy in Charlottesville”

Announcing the JUDJ Activist Summit [UPDATED]

Jews United for Democracy and Justice (JUDJ) will convene its inaugural event, “Building Bridges – Building Movements: A Los Angeles Activist Summit,” a half-day gathering, designed to educate, enlighten, and engage the 2300 individual signatories of JUDJ’s statement of support. For more information and to register, click here.

The event will kick-off with a Convening Conversation: “We Were Made for This: How Los Angeles is Leading the Way on Issues of Justice and Democracy” featuring Congresswoman Karen Bass, City Attorney Mike Feuer, L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

DATE – Sunday May 21, 2017

TIME – 12:30pm – 5:00pm (see program schedule below)

LOCATION – Leo Baeck Temple 1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd L.A. 90018 Continue reading “Announcing the JUDJ Activist Summit [UPDATED]”

JUDJ seder supplement and text study: “Because we were Strangers, Because we were Slaves”

In partnership with several leaders in the Los Angeles Orthodox community, JUDJ has developed a series of resources for your Passover table:

  1. A one-page Passover Seder Supplement, “Because we were Strangers”, to bring to your Seder table a Jewishly informed discussion of contemporary immigration and refugee issues, and;
  2. An accompanying one-page text study guide, “Because we were Slaves”.
  3. Additionally, we have an expanded, 21-page, Passover curriculum and study guide available here.

See below for suggestions on how best to incorporate the supplement into your Seder.

study guide text study

Download our one-page JUDJ Seder Supplement and one-page JUDJ Study Guide for use at your seder

When you invite the “other” into your home at the  “Ha Lachma Anya”  you can introduce this Supplement.  Then, you can ask these four questions either at the same time the Four Questions arise in the Haggada, or you can ask them as follows:

  • Question #1 can be asked at the “yachatz” when we break the middle matzo as it is about making room for others.
  • Question #2 can be asked in the middle of the telling after the Four Sons when we begin to reflect on the conditions, locales and practices of our ancestors.
  • Question #3 can be asked  when you arrive at the section of the telling that speaks of our historical vulnerability– “MY father was a wandering Aramean” .
  • And, Question #4 can be asked almost anywhere in the Haggadah .

For our expanded, 21-page, Passover curriculum and study guide, click here.

JUDJ Passover Supplement on immigration and refugees

As Passover approaches, Jews United for Democracy and Justice (JUDJ) is pleased to join with partners in the Orthodox community to distribute this educational supplement for use as you prepare for and celebrate Passover. Researched by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Dean and Rabbi of Yavneh Hebrew Academy, the supplement explores the deep concern in Jewish tradition for the immigrant, refugee, and stranger. Through a rich array of classical and modern sources, the supplement suggests that we consider that our own freedom, which we celebrate during Passover, is not complete without the freedom of all humanity.

JUDJ is a broad coalition of Los Angeles Jews committed to upholding the principles of democracy, justice, and equality that anchor the American ideal. JUDJ speaks with a Jewish moral voice, insisting on tzedek (Justice) and herut (freedom) for all in the challenging times we face. For more information about JUDJ, please go to, or write to us at

With warm wishes for a good Passover,

JUDJ Steering Committee: Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Mel Levine, Shawn Landres, Dan Loeterman, Samantha Millman, David N. Myers, Glenn Sonnenberg, Zev Yaroslavsky, & Sam Yebri

In partnership with:
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn of Yavneh Hebrew Academy,
Rabbi Ari Segal of Shalhevet High School,
Rabbi Abraham Lieberman YULA Girls School
Rabbi Arye Sufrin & Rabbi Dov Emerson YULA Boys School
David Rubin, Alan Gindi, Seth Berkowitz, and Irwin Weiss, M.D.

JEWISH WEEK: First Read For March 16

Opposition to Trump unifies Los Angeles Jews

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles’ Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they haven’t seen in decades, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition “aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.”

Trump’s rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen, senior spiritual leader at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. “Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. Continue reading “JEWISH WEEK: First Read For March 16”