This powerful open letter to the Pennsylvania Jewish community, signed by dozens of Pennsylvania Jews, including rabbis, legislators and other prominent individuals, deserves to be read by all American Jews.
We are writing as American Jews from all across Pennsylvania to ask that you join us in supporting Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.
Much has been said and many questions have been raised within the Jewish community in recent weeks about Senator Obama's sensitivity to our community and his record on Israel. Unfortunately, much of the discourse has been based more on politics and positioning and less on facts and fair-minded analysis. We are writing to set the record straight and tell you why we intend to vote for Barack Obama.
Each of us - us members of the Jewish community - takes great pride in our commitment to Judaism. For us, the strategy of assigning guilt by association - as has been to done to Senator Obama - runs counter to our teachings and dishonors Jewish law and ethical traditions. Jewish law neither condemns thoughts nor does it denounce the musing of other's hearts. By contrast, under Jewish law, we - all of us - are judged by our actions and our actions alone.
Senator Obama has earned our respect and gratitude because of his support for traditional Jewish values and his commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Israel. His support for Tikkun Olam - "repairing the world" - and social justice is evident through his accomplishments in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. Without exception, Senator Obama has voted 100% consistently with the position of AIPAC on foreign aid and all other legislation and resolutions affecting Israel. These are the kind of actions for which we are grateful as a community. And, these are facts. For a more in depth look at the Senator's strong record on issues that matter to our community, please click here.
Earlier this month, responding to withering criticism of the pastor of his church, Senator Obama delivered a courageous and powerful speech that demonstrated his unique ability to talk frankly about the continuing racial tension in our country. His speech itself will not lead to racial reconciliation or a complete understanding of our different religious and cultural traditions, but it has opened a new door for Americans of all backgrounds to begin speaking openly with one another. It is a speech that will serve as a teaching tool for all our citizens and will surely serve the interests of the Jewish community. In trying to place the speech in historical context, The New York Times editorialized that the "Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on religion..."
While we are profoundly disturbed by the unpatriotic, bigoted and anti-Semitic comments of the retired pastor of Senator Obama's church, we are moved that Barack stood up at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia earlier this month, and "condemned in unequivocal terms the statements of Reverend Wright" and expressed his own views on issues near and dear to the heart and soul of the Jewish community.
Specifically, in repudiating the remarks of his former pastor, Senator Obama said Reverend Wright "expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country...a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a great rabbinic scholar of the 20th century, was known equally for his theological scholarship and as well as for having marched alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.
Heschel once recalled that when marching in Selma, he was confronted by a host of people who were filled with hate and ignorance. They jeered at the Rabbi who afterwards declared to his fellow Jews: "When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying." Later, Heschel would recount that while he had always found comfort in his Siddur, his prayer book, it was in Selma where he learned to pray with his feet as well.
We have each chosen to pray with our feet and stand with Barack Obama because he is sensitive to the issues of the Jewish community and a stalwart supporter of Israel.
We respectfully ask that you stand with Senator Barack Obama and vote for him on April 22.
The Honorable Josh Shapiro, Deputy Speaker, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Abington, PA
The Honorable Daylin Leach, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Ardmore, PA
Rabbi Robyn Frisch, Rydal, PA
Rabbi Seth Frisch, Rydal, PA
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Jonathan H. Gerard, Easton, PA
Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Joshua Waxman, Fort Washington, PA
Robert S. Adelson
Bryn Mawr, PA
Chester County, PA
Henri J. Barkey
International Relations Dept., Lehigh University
Dr. Steve Barrer
Daniel Berger, Esq.
Todd W. Bernstein
James D. Bloom
Bradley T. Forman
Aaron J. Friewald, Esq.
Spring House, PA
Berks County, PA
Stephen M. Goodman
Eve Klothen, Esq.
Joseph Kohn, Esq.
Dean Kross, M.D.
Clifford Levine, Esq.
Rosanne M. Levine
Daniel E. Loeb
Publisher, Philadelphia Jewish Voice
Cathy Lewis Long
Andrea M. Lowenstein
Michael E. Lowenstein
Upper Dublin, PA
Morey Myers, Esq.
Penn Valley, PA
Prof. Lawrence Silberstein
Director, Berman Center for Jewish Studies, Lehigh University
Blue Bell, PA
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