Reform Jewish Statement on 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections
As the dust settles on the stunning upset in the American Presidential Election, Reform Jews in the U.S. – and across the world – woke up to a new reality, a changing global sentiment. The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) joined the Religious Action Center (RAC), Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and other partners in issuing a Reform Jewish Statement on the 2016 Presidential Election. We invite readers to browse through various resources from Reform Rabbis and others as a source of help and guidance in understanding and responding to our new world.
November 9, 2016
WASHINGTON – The people have voted and American democracy is strong. We respect that vote and we extend our hand to President-elect Trump. We also extend our hand to the members of the 115th Congress. These leaders will have critical decisions to make that will weigh on the future of our nation, our communities, our families and the entire world. We hope that they govern with wisdom and righteousness to create a space where all Americans are respected.
President-elect Trump has the opportunity to use his office to bring Americans together, and to move us toward a brighter future. If he does so, we will be ready to work with him for the common good. If he does not, we also stand ready to be fierce advocates for the values that guide us: inclusivity, justice and compassion.
This week we read Parshat Lech Lecha with its clarion call to “go forth.” Just as Abraham went out into a place of great uncertainty, we now find ourselves in an unanticipated time and place. But we know, like Abraham, that our faith and enduring values will be a strong foundation as we move forward. We love the stranger, feed the hungry and care for the orphan and the widow.
Throughout our Reform Movement's history, our congregations, institutions, rabbis, cantors, other professionals and lay leaders have striven to bring all of us together to strengthen and to sustain one another, and to work together in the pursuit of justice for everyone. We welcome all: Jews and non-Jews, people of all races and religions, of all sexual orientations and gender identities and the immigrants among us. That welcome is the essence of who we are as a community, and who we are as a country, and that remains as true today as it has ever been.
As we pray each week in our synagogues on Shabbat in the Prayer for our Nation, we ask God for guidance for ourselves and for our nation, to grant our leaders the wisdom and forbearance to govern with justice and compassion. We ask God to help us appreciate one another and to respect the many ways that we may be faithful to the ways of righteousness, and to keep our country sound in body and spirit.
Union for Reform Judaism
Daryl Messinger, Chair, North American Board of Trustees
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Isabel P. Dunst, Chair, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director
Advancing Temple Institutional Development
American Conference of Cantors
Association of Reform Jewish Educators
Association of Reform Zionists of America
Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism
Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Men of Reform Judaism
National Association for Temple Administration
North American Federation of Temple Youth
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Rabbinic Network
World Union for Progressive Judaism
ReformJudaism.org has also collected responses from Reform Rabbis of the URJ as a resource for understanding and responding the impact of this changing face of America from a Progressive Jewish lens. Including:
- Rabbi Paul Kipnes of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA, shared a "Prayer for the Day After the U.S. Presidential Election," referencing that moment at the Red Sea when our people despaired like never before. He writes, “To stand still was not an option.”
- Rabbi Zo? Klein of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, CA, wrote an "Open Letter to All Americans Following the Presidential Election," sharing the story of King Solomon, who asked only for a listening heart when God offered him anything he wished. “He didn’t ask for might,” she writes, “He didn’t ask for wealth. He didn’t even ask for wisdom. He asked for a listening heart.”
- Senior Reform Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism in the UK, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, describes how Trump stoked fear to win the election – and how to fight back in this Jewish News article for the Times of Israel, “This is not the day to retreat”.