We the undersigned are Rabbis who decry anti-Semitism in all forms and affirm our support for the Women’s March.
We have recently been in dialogue with Women’s March leaders, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, engaging in frank discussions about the issues that are dividing our communities: the connection of Tamika Mallory with Nation of Islam leader Reverend Louis Farrakhan, whose words about Jews and LGBTQ people are anathema to us; the perception of earlier erasure of Jewish women from this and other women’s movements; and ongoing personal attacks on Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, including threats against their lives. We have also discussed the widespread reality of racism and anti-Semitism in American society, and the reasons why we can more effectively combat these societal structures by working together.
Tamika and Linda have listened carefully and respectfully to our hurt and concern. We have not resolved our differences but we agree to continue meeting, talking and working together long after the 2019 Women’s March is over. Tamika and Linda have also heard the concerns of other Jewish leaders and have acknowledged earlier mistakes. They have denounced anti-Semitism and have taken meaningful steps to welcome more Jewish women onto the Steering Committee of the Women’s March and engage Jewish organizations at the highest levels of collaboration. They also reminded us that the Women’s March has included Jewish leaders since its inception, and that Jews always have been celebrated as a part of the Movement. We believe them and our belief is strengthened by the official statement of the Women’s March, which affirms:
“Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you…. We are deeply invested in building better and deeper relationships with the Jewish community. And we’re committed to deepening relationships with any community who has felt left out of this movement."
We recognize that:
- Statements and actions from and about our different communities have caused pain and threaten to derail the hopeful possibility of a truly multifaceted Women’s Movement.
- We must all pay more attention to the spread of white supremacy and white nationalism in this country, forces which seek to exploit our pain, divide us, and ultimately destroy us
- All of our communities are internally complex and diverse and involve webs of connection that are misunderstood by people outside those communities. No individual can speak for an entire group of people.
- Movements for positive change only work when we prioritize love over anger and trust over fear, and when we stay focused on our shared goals.
We have learned too well that divisions between Jews and People of Color only serve to further the aims of white supremacists and their enablers, and to erase the strong presence in our Jewish communities of Jews of Color. We believe there is power and beauty in an intersectional, multiracial, multifaith, women-led movement that is the ideal of the Women’s March. We believe the best way to ensure that ideal is to stay in the conversation and work in good faith with our partners. We also want to support our Jewish women of color sisters who have called upon the community to show up to the Women's March.
We encourage members of the Jewish community to participate in the Women's March on 1/19/19. In Washington, D.C. and New York City, there are contingents of Jews marching together, and those who wish to express Jewish pride and solidarity may wish to join them. We hope that future marches of many kinds are held on different days, and we will carry in spirit those who cannot march this year, out of devotion to their Shabbat observance.
Our deepest hope for this March and for this Movement is that they become a sanctuary for all who march, offering safety, pride, love and hope. We take seriously the Divine instruction in Torah (Exodus 25:8): ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם “Make for me a holy sanctuary and I will dwell with you.”
We pledge to remain actively involved with the Women’s March, its next steps, its hopeful agenda, and its leadership, Linda and Tamika in particular. We pledge to continue creating and strengthening relationships across our differences and to work towards our shared goals. In this way, we pray, we will join people across this country in building a sanctuary in time and place that invites the Divine to dwell among us.
Signed by Rabbi Barat Ellman, Phd; Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg; Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Hermann; Rabbi Lisa D. Grant, PhD; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum; Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, Rabbi Joshua Stanton, Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener