December 11, 2015

Rabbinic Association Denounces Trump’s Islamphobia

"Ohalah" rabbis denounce attacks on Islam, call for light and love in the spirit of Hanukkah.

Dear folks, In this dark time of terrorism from many ultra-violent sources -- murder in the name of life at a Planned Parenthood clinic; murder in the name of white supremacy at a Black Southern church; murder in the name of defending Islam in California –- the darkness is worsened by the responses of deep fear and rising hatred toward immigrants, refugees, and especially Muslims in the US.

So we must act to ensure that in the darkness, as we especially recall and make real during Hanukkah, “Light is sown like a seed for those who seek justice – Or zarua latzaddik.”

In that light, I welcome the light sown by a statement from Ohalah, the Association of Rabbis, Rabbinic Pastors and Cantors for Jewish Renewal, condemning the most recent outburst of hatred from a “leading” US politician.

If any other rabbinic association has adopted such a resolution, I am not aware of it. I hope you – members, friends, and readers of The Shalom Center -- will urge other rabbinic associations and other Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and other religious organizations and communities to do the same.

I especially hope that, as Ohalah urges, our leaders, secular and religious, will actually “convene Town Hall meetings, dialogue groups, teach-ins and prayerful gatherings to help us reach out to each other with holy intention and love in our hearts.”

In my own experience, simply showing up for such gatherings in support for those under attack is worthwhile. Even stronger as a process of healing is working together on a concern we all share. The most obvious one at this moment of our history is working together to heal our shared planet, our common home, from the danger of climate chaos.

For this healing to happen, each culture and community must draw on its own deepest wisdom to make a “social eco-system” of communities working together for eco-social justice.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said again and again half a century ago, “In a free society, some are guilty; all are responsible.”

The demagogues among us – some in every community – are guilty of inciting violence.

WE are responsible to make sure that our society becomes more fully a free society, a just society, and a community of healing.

The Ohalah statement follows:

Ohalah, the Association of Rabbis, Rabbinic Pastors and Cantors for Jewish Renewal, condemns Donald Trump’s hateful call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. As Americans who found refuge from oppression, religious autonomy and freedom in the United States, we refuse to condone such a policy of discrimination against others. It would destroy the social and ethical fabric of America, show contempt for our Constitution and disrespect for the values of our religious teachings.

As Jews we have learned that the instruction or mitzvah in the Torah mentioned more than any other, 30-plus times, is to be "welcoming to the stranger..." We are taught that we are all created in in the "image of the Divine." (Genesis 1:26-27) Thus, we deplore statements and organizations that discriminate against others. We deny our own humanity when we deny the rights of others. As a Jewish community, we open our doors to our Muslim neighbors in peace and understanding.

Hanukah is a time to reflect on the meaning of religious freedom and to offer gratitude for the blessings of life. But Hanukah is not complete without dedicating ourselves to helping those who are denied human rights.

We join with other Americans who speak out for justice and loving kindness, welcoming immigrants and refugees who come to our shores. We affirm the words of the Prophet Micah "to do justice, to do acts of loving kindness and to walk humbly with your God."

We call upon our leaders, secular and religious, to convene Town Hall meetings, dialogue groups, teach-ins and prayerful gatherings to help us reach out to each other with holy intention and love in our hearts.

May the Lights of the season inspire us.

In the light of this statement, it is especially fitting that as we move into this coming Shabbat, we carry forward the outcry of the Prophet Zechariah that is the special Prophetic reading this coming Shabbat, the Shabbat of Hanukkah. Lest the politicians of hos own day, the leaders of his people, turn to hatred of foreigners and to violence, he called out to them that the meaning of their own Menorah, bearing sacred light in their own Holy Temple, was this:

“‘Not by might, and not by power, but by My Spirit/Breath!’ says YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhhh, the Infinite Breathing-Spirit of the world.

The great composer-singer Debbie Friedman set these words to song.

Not by might, and not by power, but by Spirit alone shall we all live in peace -- Shalom!

Debbie died in 2011. But you can watch and hear her teach and lead the song at


“By Spirit alone will we all live in peace!”

How do we make this real?

The Green Menorah Covenant reminds us that the Menorah we humans make and the Tree that breathes life into us -- the lives of human earthlings and the lives of trees and all other life-forms in our Earth -- are intertwined.

We welcome you to join in the Green Menorah work of The Shalom Center to heal the Earth from climate chaos -- both our work within the Jewish community and our interfaith work, which makes real our commitment to honor and share the wisdoms of Islam and many other faiths to heal our Mother Earth.

Please join us as a member of the Green Menorah Covenant by clicking on the maroon button just below.

Shalom, salaam, peace, Earth! -- Arthur

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