August 25, 2010 / 16 Elul 5770 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association www.therra.org
“RRA STATEMENT on PARK 51”
The Reconstructionist Rabbinic Association (RRA) has watched the conversation unfold around Park51, the proposed community center in lower Manhattan, with deep concern. We fully recognize the strong sentiments that have been aroused, and the passionate expressions of grief that are still raw for many families. As Jews and as rabbis, however, we want to state unambiguously our commitment to the principle of the free exercise of religion, a principle that has allowed Jewish Americans to flourish in this country.
Park51 is a project that seeks to emulate communal institutional expressions of other religious traditions like the YMCA and the JCC which not only provide for their respective faith communities to come together for social and educational offerings, but more importantly, are open to the larger neighborhood regardless of religious affiliation. As Reconstructionist Jews, we understand that peoplehood is at the core of these institutions - reflecting that Americans of all faiths live in two civilizations simultaneously and Park51 is an opportunity for American Muslims to celebrate their history, traditions and heritage in the embrace of one of the highest American ideals, that of freedom of religion.
We commend Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama for their support of this project and urge them both to be strong and of good courage in the face of rising hate speech and condemnation of the voices of tolerance. We call on Jews of all denominations to oppose the dangerous rise in these debates and protests. At this time on the Jewish calendar of moral introspection and teshuvah (returning and repenting), we call on our rabbis to work with their communities to turn toward the kind of America we want to live in going forward, one whose deep commitment to religious pluralism will be strengthened, for Muslim Americans and for all of us.
August, 2010- Interfaith Statement from www.multifaithworld.com
As interfaith educators who work with rabbinical students from all denominations, we are deeply dismayed by some of the ignorance and confusion we have heard expressed in the national conversation surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” We are especially concerned when we hear such ignorance and confusion coming from within the Jewish community.
Whatever happens with the proposed community center in lower Manhattan, the controversy has highlighted a question that, in the post 9/11 world, comes enmeshed in strong emotion: Is the American ideal of religious liberty—an ideal fundamental to the health of our democracy—expansive enough to include Muslim Americans?
We urge rabbis across the country to speak out against the bigotry that has been unleashed by this controversy, and to assert leadership on the issue of religious pluralism. As Jews, we know all too well the destructive power of hate speech. We should be in the forefront of efforts to ensure that religious minorities can practice their traditions freely.
We encourage our students and colleagues in the rabbinate—Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and independent—to consider using this September 11th, also Shabbat Shuva, as a time to reflect with our communities on our own fears and prejudices, on the need to educate ourselves about Islam, and on the role Jews might play in helping to create a more inclusive and just society.
We look forward to hearing your responses.
Rabbi Justus Baird
Director, Center for Multifaith Education,
Auburn Theological Seminary
Rabbi Reuven Firestone
Professor of Medieval Jewish and Islamic Studies,HUC-JIR/Los Angeles
Senior Fellow, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
Director, Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives and
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Or Rose
Associate Dean, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
Co-Director, Center for Interreligious Leadership Education
Raquel Ukeles, PhD
Golda Meir Fellow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Academic Director, World Leadership Program
Jewish Scholar, Luce Retreat for Emerging Muslim and Jewish Religious Leaders
Rabbi Burton Visotsky
Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and
Director, Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary of America