340 US rabbis call on Congress to endorse Iran nuclear deal

"We are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement,” rabbis write in letter to lawmakers.

By JTA
August 18, 2015 10:36
2 minute read.
United States Capitol building in Washington, DC

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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In a letter to Congress, 340 US rabbis from the major streams of Judaism expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal.

The letter sent Monday urges the House of Representatives and Senate to endorse the agreement, in which sanctions are lifted in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

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Noting that “we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement,” the letter states, “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”

In a news release issued by Ameinu, a liberal Zionist organization, one of the letter’s signatories, Rabbi Steven Bob of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, said, “We commend the US and the other negotiating teams for their dedication to reaching an agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.  This deal is good for the United States and our allies in the region, and is the best arrangement possible given current international realities.”

Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Wilmette, Illinois, said in the news release that if Congress rejects the deal, “the consequences for the United States, Israel, the Jewish community and the world will be significant.”

“We fear that the outcome will be the collapse of the international sanctions regime, an Iranian race for nuclear weapons and an associated arms race in the Middle East and isolation of Israel and the United States from international partners,” Gordon said.

Numerous American Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, have publicly opposed the Iran deal negotiated between Iran and six major powers. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is lobbying the Congress to reject the deal and has spent millions of dollars in its campaign.

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Congress has until late September to decide whether to reject the deal. President Barack Obama is campaigning for the deal, while the Republicans mostly oppose the deal.

Among the rabbis signing the letter are Burton Visotzky, a professor at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary; Sharon Brous of Ikar, a large congregation in Los Angeles; Lawrence Kushner, the author of more than 18 books on Judaism; Sharon Kleinbaum, the longtime rabbi of the largest LGBT synagogue in North America; Nina Beth Cardin, an author and Jewish environmental activist; and Amy Eilberg, the first woman rabbi ordained by the Conservative movement.

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