US rabbis urge Congress to back Obama on Syria
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US rabbis urge Congress to back Obama on Syria

Missive to lawmakers on Rosh Hashanah eve calls for military action to help save thousands of lives

Rabbis Judy Schindler, Rick Jacobs and Eric Yoffie, previous President of the URJ, at Jacobs' installation. (photo credit: Clark Jones, Courtesy the Union for Reform Judaism)
Rabbis Judy Schindler, Rick Jacobs and Eric Yoffie, previous President of the URJ, at Jacobs' installation. (photo credit: Clark Jones, Courtesy the Union for Reform Judaism)

Leading rabbis covering the religious and political spectrum urged lawmakers in Congress to support President Obama’s plans to strike Syria to stop its use of chemical weapons.

“We write you as descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees, whose ancestors were gassed to death in concentration camps,” said the letter sent Wednesday, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. “We write you as a people who have faced persecution for many centuries, and are glad to have found a safe refuge where we can thrive in the United States.”

The 17 signers included Rabbi Eric Yoffie, a past president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Yosef Blau, the rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University; leaders of the Conservative movement; and essayists such as Leon Wieseltier and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

They called on Congress “with great urgency to authorize the President to use force in Syria ‘in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,’ as outlined in his August 31st draft legislation.

“Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save thousands of lives,” the letter said.

The authors noted that the letter was timed for before the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“May this coming year be one of life and creation the world over, in which we cease to witness the deaths of so many innocent human beings,” it said.

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