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At Central Synagogue

Rabbi’s Response to B’nai Jeshurun’s Congregational Email on U.N. Vote

Posted December 5, 2012

You may have read news of the controversial email sent to the members of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in response to last week’s U.N. Palestine vote and reported in today’s New York Times.

The email was signed by the clergy (for whom I have great esteem), board president and executive director of B’nai Jeshurun and, in part, called the U.N. vote,  “an opportunity to celebrate.”

While I fully understand and support the right of Jews to disagree in all matters pertaining to Israel, I was troubled both by the vote and by the assertion presented in the email:

“The vote at the U.N. yesterday is a great moment for us as citizens of the world.”

The General Assembly vote was in opposition to the stated preference of the Israeli and U.S. governments and the Quartet on the Middle East. That the Palestinian Authority unilaterally pursued action through the U.N. neither brings the Middle East closer to peace nor to the negotiations that both sides in the conflict have asserted would be the process leading to Palestinian statehood.

Just as I wonder what end the U.N. vote serves, I also wonder what purpose the B’nai Jeshurun email serves. In both instances, I suspect the results will be greater animus and more deeply entrenched positions on both sides.

Sadly, I see neither gain nor movement toward peace through either action.

My hope is that we continue to pray for healing and work for peace in a region fraught with challenges and complexities that go far beyond dinner table discussions or calls for celebration in congregational emails.