Rabbinic Statement of Concern

4 February 2014

I need your help with what’s happening in Jerusalem.

Last week, Israeli newspapers reported that Mayor Nir Barkat is backing the candidacy of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for the post of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Rabbi Eliyahu’s history of divisive statements and actions is, unfortunately, a matter of long record. Israeli organizations such as the Israel Religious Action Center, Tag Meir, and Yerushalem have long worked to keep Rabbi Eliyahu from assuming positions of prominence in Israeli public life. And just last summer Israel’s Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein designated Rabbi Eliyahu as unfit for the office of Chief Rabbi of Israel.

We need to let Mayor Barkat know that appointing someone with a history of extremist, exclusionary behavior as Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem sends exactly the wrong message. In a city that is polarizing between Jews and Arabs, and between the various streams of Judaism represented there, any chief rabbi appointed should demonstrate the ability to listen, to conciliate and to unite.

Prominent rabbinic voices from all streams of American Judaism are serving as convening signers on a letter of concern, which we will deliver to Mayor Barkat in advance of the upcoming election for Jerusalem Chief Rabbi. Several of the mayor’s appointees sit on the municipal commission that elects the chief rabbi, and that is the reason we are directing our sentiments to him.

Please join these colleagues in making sure that Mayor Barkat knows that rabbinic leadership throughout the world is united in forceful opposition to appointing a figure like Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu to such a prominent, symbolically significant post.

Rabbi Elka Abrahamson
Rabbi Andy Bachman
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl
Rabbi Sharon Brous
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi Elliot Dorff
Rabbi Denise Eger
Rabbi Amy Eilberg
Rabbi David Ellenson
Rabbi Laura Geller
Rabbi Irving Greenberg
Rabbi Shai Held
Rabba Sara Hurwitz
Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Rabbi Irwin Kula
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Rabbi Brian Lurie
Rabbi Roly Matalon
Rabbi Yehudah Mirsky
Rabbi Danny Nevins
Rabbi David Rosenn
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn
Rabbi David Saperstein
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Rabbi Toba Spitzer
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
Rabbi Ethan Tucker
Rabbi Gordon Tucker
Rabbi Burt Visotzky
Rabbi Deborah Waxman
Rabbi Steven Wernick
Rabbi David Wolpe

Only rarely do we ask you to sign on to this sort of statement, but this is an issue that goes deeply to our responsibilities and to our values as ohavei Yisrael.

Please encourage colleagues to join as well. We are aiming to gather over 1,000 signatures before the week is out.

B’virkat shalom,

Rabbi David Rosenn
Executive Vice-President
New Israel Fund