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Nearly 1000 of World’s Rabbis Urge Israeli Colleagues to Reject Racist Religious Ruling

16 December 2010

NEW YORK — Nearly 1000 rabbis from every Jewish religious denomination sent a letter to their Israeli colleagues this week condemning the recent rabbinical ruling forbidding Jews in Israel to rent or sell homes to Arabs as a “painful distortion of our tradition” and “ Chillul HaShem, a desecration of God’s name.”

The letter, which was organized by the New Israel Fund, the leading organization committed to equality and democracy for all Israelis, expresses grave concern about the impact of the discriminatory edict on the relationship between world Jewry and the State of Israel. The signatories, who hail primarily from the United States but also include rabbis from the Americas and Europe, urge their Israeli colleagues to join with them in taking a forceful public stand against the ruling.

To read the full letter and a full list of rabbinic signers, please visit

“Statements like these do great damage to our efforts to encourage people to love and support Israel. They communicate to our congregants that Israel does not share their values, and they promote feelings of alienation and distancing,” the letter reads. “Further, these attacks on the principles of our prophets, which form the basis of Israel’s law and society, provide justification for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment across the world.”

“This letter is testament to the broad consensus that exists amongst rabbis from around the world and across the denominational spectrum that racism and discrimination, in all forms, has no place in Jewish tradition or practice,” said Rabbi David Rosenn, the New Israel Fund’s Chief Operating Officer and a signatory. “We are appealing to our colleagues in Israel, the vast majority of whom share our pride and inspiration in Judaism’s tradition tolerance and justice, to stand with us, shoulder-to-shoulder, in rejecting this ruling.”

An NIF representative presented the letter at the Knesset Caucus for Pluralism and Civic Equality, who met Tuesday to discuss the prospects of an official response to the original edict. The ruling has already been denounced by Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rabbis Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Yehuda Gilad and Yuval Cherlow and representatives of Yad Vashem. NIF plans to present the signed letter to additional members of Knesset and government ministers in the coming days.

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