(photo credit: BERNADETT SZABO / REUTERS)
In light of the continuing violence in Israel, the leaders of several Jewish denominations have declared this Saturday to be a solidarity Sabbath across the United States.
Leaders of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements, in conjunction with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, announced the decision on Wednesday.
“We hope that all synagogues will add special prayers in their Sabbath morning services, in addition to the prayer for the State of Israel, and that rabbis will use their sermons to discuss what is occurring. We also hope they will encourage members to visit Israel, express public support for Israel in the media and to elected officials, and maintain contact with Israeli friends and relatives,” said Stephen Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, the chairman and executive vice president of the conference, respectively.
The Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbinical Assembly, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Rabbinical Council of America, as well as the National Council of Young Israel and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities are all participating.
URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said that his “heart breaks” seeing the “vicious” attacks against Jews in Israel, and that members of his movement will “pray for a peaceful Shabbat that leads to a safer and more secure State of Israel.”
The conservative movement came out in support of Israel’s crackdown on terrorism, with Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly demanding that both the international community and the Palestinian leadership condemn the violence.
Calling it an “outrage,” she said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must “take vigorous and decisive action to restore order.”
“Israel’s strength is amazing to behold during this time of barbarous attacks on its civilians,” said Farley Weiss of the National Council of Young Israel, a modern-Orthodox movement.
“We back the Israeli government’s right to take the necessary actions to protect its citizens from harm by those who wish to destroy it.”
The various denominations taking part in the unity Shabbat are frequently at odds on issues of the peace process and relations with the Palestinians, but are now putting their differences aside, said Rabbi Deborah Waxman of the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities.
“While the North American Jewish community may not always see eye-toeye regarding how to best bring about an ideal future for the State of Israel and the Jewish people overall, today we mourn together for the victims and with the families of the recent attacks that have brought terror to the streets of Israel. We unequivocally denounce this violence and believe that those responsible should be held accountable.”