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Statement from Progressive Jewish clergy on Israel and Gaza

‘A time for silence and a time for speaking.’
Kohelet 3:1, 7

Preamble

We, the undersigned, Progressive Jewish Rabbis and Cantors, embrace an expression of Judaism that values pluralism and affirms the strength of diversity within and beyond our communities. We attempt to live our lives according to prophetic teachings of justice, compassion, truth and peace. More than anything, we want to avoid the terrible destructiveness of war and its consequences. We know, as well, that there are times when competing concerns come into play – issues of security of a sovereign state that needs to maintain the safety of its citizens.

We are compelled to speak out at this time and to say that the death and suffering endured in both Israel and Gaza must come to an end.

Statement

A terrible massacre occurred in Israel on 7 October – brutal murders and abductions, unspeakable violations that transgressed universal human values, the continued captivity of hostages and displacement of thousands of families and individuals from their homes in Israel, and the relentless bombardment of enemy rockets against Israel’s population.

How can a country and its citizens recover from the trauma of a pogrom that raises spectral memories of past genocidal acts against the Jewish people?

In Gaza, tens of thousands have been killed, and even more injured. Many lie buried under the rubble of destruction. Whole families and communities have seen their homes, schools, mosques and hospitals destroyed. More than one million exhausted, hungry and sick Palestinians, who have sought safety in Rafah, are now no longer safe there.

As the humanitarian crisis deteriorates further, the threat of a ground offensive in Rafah will have a devastating impact on vulnerable and traumatised civilians caught up in the futility of a war without end.

As Progressive Jewish clergy we have always worked towards a two-state solution, which enables both Israelis and Palestinians to enjoy sovereignty and security, and where peace and relationship building can thrive.

The war in Gaza, and the continued captivity of the hostages, threatens the possibility of such a future.

Yet, despite these bleak and dark times, we continue to apply ourselves to the hard work of listening to each other across divides, with humility and empathy. With Antisemitism and Islamophobia increasing in the West, we commit ourselves and entreat others to act with civility and to rise to the challenge of working with people of different beliefs.

We urge that all steps are taken, as soon as possible, to end the bloodshed and to bring the hostages home.

We recognise that the pathway towards a political solution will be painful. But creating a road map to something different is utterly necessary, so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace. We pray in sorrow, but also with hope that universal and humane values will prevail. Now let there be a time for peace.

Signatories

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen
Rabbi Lisa Barrett
Rabbi Rachel Benjamin
Rabbi Rebecca Birk
Student Rabbi Daisy Bogod
Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts
Rabbi Clifford Cohen
Rabbi Dr Frank Dabba Smith
Rabbi Janet Darley
Rabbi Elana Dellal
Rabbi Colin Eimer
Rabbi Warren Elf
Rabbi Paul Freedman
Rabbi Ariel J Friedlander
Rabbi Anna Gerrard
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith
Rabbi Roberta Harris-Eckstein
Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton
Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi
Rabbi Richard Jacobi
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Rabbi Dr Kamila Kopřivová
Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Rabbi Judith Levitt
Rabbi Jeffrey Newman
Rabbi René Pfertzel
Rabbi Danny Rich
Rabbi Dr Judith Rosen-Berry
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Rabbi Sybil Sheridan
Rabbi Dr Reuven Silverman
Rabbi Mark Solomon
Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick
Rabbi Daniela Thau
Rabbi Pete Tobias
Rabbi Kath Vardi
Rabbi Anna Wolfson
Cantor Tamara Wolfson
Rabbi Alexandra Wright
Rabbi Igor Zinkov

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