In Support of Rabbi Rick Jacobs

[Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the designated new president of the Reform synagogue movement (URJ), has recently been under attack in ads and opeds due to board positions he holds in other organizations. Here is a letter of support from communal leaders.]

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, is a visionary rabbi, a dynamic leader, a true ohev’ Yisrael, a communal activist on Israel’s behalf, a passionate supporter of Israel.

Some of us have known Rabbi Jacobs for years, calling him our friend and our Rabbi; others of us write out of concern for the public discourse in the Jewish community. Suffice it to say that Rabbi Jacobs’ dedication to Medinat Yisrael and Am Yisrael is unquestioned by this group, and by the thousands of congregants he has instilled over the years with the same deep love of Israel that he himself possesses. His views represent a significant portion of the American pro-Israel community and are surely representative of the Movement he has been selected to lead.

We worry when efforts are made to continuously narrow the definition of “support for Israel,” and we are concerned as well by those who claim that only those who agree with them on everything are fit to be called “pro-Israel.”

The pro-Israel community, like the Jewish community, is diverse and eclectic, representing a range of opinions and ideals. The last thing that we need is for people in this community to be excluding one another.

As past and present leaders of organizations with a broad range of constituents, we are no strangers to the diversity of viewpoints, approaches and styles that make up the organized community, and the American Jewish community. Our experiences working with Jews of different backgrounds and viewpoints has taught us the importance of unifying behind issues of great importance to Israel even when disagreements over nuance and positions existed. When we can all find common ground to stand on, our voices together are all the more powerful.

We look forward to working with Rabbi Jacobs as he prepares to lead the Union for Reform Judaism into the future, and we hope that communal leaders will commit themselves to respect the diversity of opinions that make our community so strong.

Harold Tanner
Former Chairman
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Seymour Reich
Former Chairman
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

John Shapiro
Former President
UJA-Federation of New York

Susie K. Stern
Former Chair of the Board
UJA-Federation of New York

Howard Berkowitz

Rabbi Steve Gutow
President and CEO
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Marie Abrams
Past Chair
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
Executive Vice President
Rabbinical Assembly

Rabbi Steven Wernick
Executive Vice President and CEO
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism