We Pray With Our Feet

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, denounces in the strongest possible terms, the violence and the hateful speech and violence shown at the recent white supremacist nationalist, neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.  We send our prayers to the families of those who have suffered loss and to those who have been hurt.  We also acknowledge the wider impact of these pernicious words and actions.

As these white nationalist, neo-Nazis expressed hateful messages targeting Jews and People of Color, we are reminded that we are called to speak out against such hate, to call upon our leaders not to allow examples of hate to go unchallenged, and to reflect upon what each of us as individuals can do.

In Charlottesville, and any Charlottesville to come, let us remember that we are all b’tzelem Elohim, created in the image of God.  Let us remember that none of us are free until all of us are free.   Let us strengthen our commitment to work for justice for all.  May we be guided to be forces for healing and peace.  May we wisely and strongly deploy our resources, energy and faith in service of Tikkun Olam and the Holy One.

Some students from the ALEPH Ordination Program have written a heartfelt and passionate statement that we append below.  We also endorse the organizations whose links appear at the end of the Students’ statement.


We, the undersigned students of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Ordination Program, the seminary for the Jewish Renewal movement, call upon Americans to join us in condemning the racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism that were on display in Charlottesville last weekend and that are an increasing presence in American life, strengthened and emboldened under the current administration. The white supremacist agenda oppresses and victimizes People of Color and paints Jews as the source of all that ails our country, a myth that has fueled anti-Semitism for centuries.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville, whose quiet home was exploited as a theater for the racist agenda of outsiders. And we stand in solidarity with people across the country who are experiencing a level of heightened anxiety, fear, and lack of safety, an experience all too familiar to People of Color.

In addition to threats and acts of violence widely reported in the media, our Jewish brothers and sisters in Charlottesville experienced a level of specific threat to their communities, sacred objects, and personal safety that aroused in them and stirs in us a visceral pain and sorrow that inescapably evokes the collective memory of Nazi Germany.

Neo-Nazi groups attract and recruit people who are in pain, who are suffering, and who are looking for identity, community, and a sense of purpose. It is important that we work to understand these motivations so that we can do the hard, long-term work of healing needed to build a world of love and justice.

We appeal to you to join us in building bridges among vulnerable communities and allies, responding to the needs of the people of Charlottesville, and standing firmly against racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism in all their forms.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “There are moments when we all stand together and see our faces in the mirror: the anguish of humanity and its helplessness; the perplexity of the individual and the need of divine guidance; being called to praise and to do what is required.”

We are in this moment called to divine service in unprecedented ways. It is up to each one of us to respond to this call. As our teacher, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, said, “God is always present. The question is, how present are we?”

We are:
Caryn Aviv…Esther Azar…Alan Bachman…Diana Brewer…Jennifer Cohen…Elizabeth Cohen…E. David Curiel…Juliet Elkind-Cruz…Shir Yaakov Feit…Laurie M. Franklin…Irwin Keller…Steven B. King…Joseph Laur…Jessica Leash…Chaya Lerner…Cantor Lisa L. Levine…Ariel Tzvia Lippman…Laura Lewis Mandeles…Seth F. Oppenheimer…Lisa Rappaport…Brielle Rassler…Lex Rofes…Charna Rosenholtz…Ken Rosenstein…Janice Rubin…Dr. Laurie Sanford…Nancy Shapiro…Jessica K. Shimberg…Brett Tancer…Sarah Tauber…Benjamin Telushkin…Maggid Ellen K. Triebwasser…Devorah Tucker…Zoe Van Raan…Stephanie Weishaar…Shlayma Zalman ben Mordechai Margolin…Cat J. Zavis


We would like to alert you to a couple of concrete actions that you and your communities can engage in, and which we encourage you to share with others:

1) To support the local Charlottesville synagogue Congregation Beth Israel, of which our AOP cantorial student Sharon McCord is a member, please donate to this GoFundMe campaign – https://www.gofundme.com/congregation-beth-israel-cville. The Aleph-affilliated P’nai Yisrael Chavurah which includes AOP graduates and students as leaders and members, needs security provided through the UVA Hillel where they meet, and which can be supported at:  http://www.brodyjewishcenter.org/support-us.html.

2) To participate in a training that seeks to address the underlying causes that attract people to neo-Nazi groups, please participate in this training, led by AOP rabbinical student Cat Zavis, and share it with others in your community. www.spiritualprogressives.org/training