Over 400 Rabbis & Cantors Sign J Street Open Letter: Our Hope Remains

June 24th, 2010

Over 400 rabbis, cantors, and rabbinical and cantorial students from across the denominational spectrum have signed an open letter to the Jewish community, titled "Our Hope Remains." The open letter will run as a full-page ad in this week's Forward. The letter, organized by J Street, reads in part:

It is our hope that the American Jewish community will become a positive force for peace, adding our voices to those in Israel calling for compromise and reconciliation. It is our hope that the Obama administration will take this recent crisis as an opportunity to do all in its power to achieve a viable and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Hope is not lost, and we refuse to give up hope in the possibility of two states, Jewish and Palestinian, living as neighbors, in peace and security. Od lo avda tikvateinu.
Signatories to the letter include 8 former presidents of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the current Vice President of the Cantors Assembly, and the incoming President of the American Conference of Cantors. A PDF of the ad, including its signatories, is available here. The full text of the letter is included below. Our Hope Remains: An Open Letter to Our Community The words of Israel's national anthem speak of hope -- a hope that one day the Jewish people would have a national home of our own. However far-off such a dream may have felt in 1878, when the original words of "HaTikvah" were composed, that hope was realized 70 years later. What had been only a poet's dream became a reality. Recent events off the coast of Gaza confirm for many the impossibility of speaking of peace, relegating it to nothing more than a poet's dream. We feel deeply the sense of pain and anguish over the violence and insecurity wrought on Israel by Hamas through rockets and terror, as well as the ongoing suffering of Gilad Shalit and his family. But we, American rabbis and cantors, assert that we have not lost hope. We are steadfast in remaining true to the vision of Israel's founders in creating a democratic, Jewish state -- a nation that upholds the highest human and Jewish values. The international controversy surrounding the attack on the Gaza flotilla, the tragic loss of life, and the growing isolation of Israel concern us deeply. They reinforce our conviction that immediate efforts to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are urgently needed to ensure Israel's long-term security and to create a viable, just, and lasting two-state solution. It is our hope that the rhetoric and actions that feed fear and violence, emanating from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, will soon give way to bold leadership that makes way for the compromises necessary to bring the violence, despair, and terror to an end. It is our hope that Israel will bring to an end what has become a counter-productive blockade of Gaza's citizens, a policy which has only strengthened Hamas, while causing great suffering to many innocent Palestinians. The blockade as currently operated also undermines Israel's long-term security and interests by increasing international hostility and isolation. We believe it is possible for Israel to ensure that weapons and materials intended for purposes of terror do not enter Gaza by screening humanitarian goods and materials appropriately to ensure they are intended for peaceful purposes. It is our hope that the American Jewish community will become a positive force for peace, adding our voices to those in Israel calling for compromise and reconciliation. It is our hope that the Obama administration will take this recent crisis as an opportunity to do all in its power to achieve a viable and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Hope is not lost, and we refuse to give up hope in the possibility of two states, Jewish and Palestinian, living as neighbors, in peace and security. Od lo avda tikvateinu.