Action Round WexWorld: Charlottesville
Shmuly Yanklowitz (WGF Alum, Class 19) and Asher Lopatin (WGF Alum, Class 5).
We have just signed on to this statement, written by long-time Wexner faculty, Rabbi Dr. “Yitz” Greenberg, initiated by the Orthodox Rabbinic Group Torat Chayim and signed by many Wexner alumni:
The central teaching of the Bible is that every human being is created in the image of God.This means that every individual and group is unique and to be treasured — but is, no less, equal and of infinite worth. Equality and protection of the law is enshrined in the founding documents of the United States and are central to our national culture and values consensus.
The white nationalist, neo-Nazi, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic demonstration last week in Charlottesville was a sin against God and a desecration of our Constitution. The violence and murder that followed was inexcusable. We believe that every law abiding American citizen of good faith joins us in condemning this exhibition of hatred, violence and murder.
We are a group of Orthodox Rabbis. We were deeply troubled by the President’s delay in rejecting the extremists and by an initial equating of the violent and their victims. We were relieved and grateful when President Trump unequivocally condemned the racism, hatred and violence. We were devastated and disgusted when he backtracked from his morally clear position.
The legitimate point that the President seeks to articulate is that there are troubling manifestations of hatred, prejudice and violence on the extreme left. These phenomena must be combated. But they cannot be invoked to justify the criminal and hateful behavior displayed and/or called for by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. They certainly cannot excuse an outright terrorist act of murder.
Mr. President, we call on you to express the moral consensus of American democracy and stop equating the behaviors of the extreme right and left in Charlottesville. The fact that the right wing extremists and their spokesmen expressed support for you means that you have a greater responsibility to make crystal clear that their interpretation of what you are about is wrong.
It is not too late to restore Presidential leadership on this moral question. To do so, you must make a decisive stand for equality, for law, for the illegitimacy of preaching hatred and practicing discrimination. Respectfully, may we suggest that you fire Steven Bannon, your White House counselor who links you to the alt-right in a way that gives credence to wrong and evil interpretations of your position.
As Orthodox Rabbis, we say that no amount of support for Israel can shield Bannon’s extremism. Nor can philo-Semitism excuse Presidential waffling on the basic moral values of America. As Charlottesville showed, the racist and anti-immigrant extremists inevitably turn anti-Semitic. White, black and yellow, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists — we are in this together. We ask you to take up leadership in the good fight.
Seth Cohen (WHP Alum, Atlanta 05).
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been hard to put into words how many of us feel following a weekend in which we witnessed white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching openly in America, leaving violence and tragedy in their wake. While the sense of being targeted by hate and prejudice is not new for many members of our community, for some of us this weekend’s events brought these issues into even plainer sight.
With that in mind, this week Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and several of our partners (OneTable, Repair the World, and others) launched the “Together at the Table” Shabbat campaign for an expression of unity and diversity this weekend in the face of fear and division. So far, more than 50 other partners have also joined this campaign and I wanted to make sure to invite my fellow Wexner alumni to consider taking part. We’ve had more than 500 hosts sign on just since yesterday.
Here’s how you can join:
1. Pledge to host a grassroots Shabbat meal this weekend: http://bit.ly/TogetherAtTheTable
2. Share with your networks and invite your friends to sign up too! A digital toolkit is here: http://bit.ly/TATTToolkit
3. Know an organization that wants to sign up and be a partner? The partner link is here: http://bit.ly/TATTPartners
4. Feel free to share this post!
Most importantly, this Shabbat weekend is about your unique participation as part of the community — use your voices to rise up in unity. Thank you to all of you who stepped forward and will be doing so. A dinner isn’t enough to create change. But maybe it’s a start for us to come together to create that change. An early Shabbat shalom… and hopefully one with more peacefulness than the last. #TogetherattheTable