Tag Archives: Middle East
many religious symbols

Concern for Religious Minorities Around the World

On Tuesday, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress published this Op-Ed in the New York Times, callingfor a collective voice standing in defense of the Christian minority being persecuted for their religious beliefs in Iraq and the Middle East.

He writes, “In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.”

Read more…


Update on Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

This past Sunday, July 20th, marked the original deadline set by the P5+1 countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) and Iran to reach an agreement after months of nuclear negotiations in Geneva.  As many people, including politicians, journalists, and faith leaders, predicted, the countries agreed to extend the negotiations for an additional six months.  (This extension comes seven months after P5+1 and Iran reached an interim agreement in late November.  That agreement, which was implemented beginning on January 20, resulted in a roll back of a few sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, including halting production at Arak, Iran’s heavy-water reactor.) Read more…


The Third Mother

When I opened my inbox this morning, I was struck by an email from Anat Hoffman regarding the tragic murder of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered yesterday.  To speak to the heartbreak we all felt upon hearing the news of the boys’ deaths, Anat shared this poem, The Third Mother, written by Israeli poet Natan Alterman: Read more…


The Nuclear Problem in Iran

Negotiations are currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland on the future of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) interim agreement arbitrated between Iran and the P5+1 (the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council – United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France plus Germany). The current terms of the 6-month interim accord allow for daily inspections of all Iranian nuclear sites and a discontinuation of work on or with centrifuges. In return, the international community has granted a reduction in a number of economic sanctions, allowing Iran access to $4.2 billion previously frozen assets. The P5+1 and Iran hope to agree upon the terms of the JPOA by July 20th, if not, negotiations will be extended by an additional 6 months. Read more…


Prayers for Kidnapped Israeli Teenagers

On Sunday, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism shared the Union for Reform Judaism’s status update regarding three Israeli teenagers who have been kidnapped:

Please join the Reform Jewish Movement in praying for the safe return of the three Yeshiva students who were kidnapped in the West Bank on their way home for Shabbat: Naftali Frenkel (Yaacov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah), Gilad Shaar (Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim), and Eyal Yifrach (Eyal ben Iris Tshoora). Our thoughts are with their families during this trying and uncertain time.

If you or your congregation are looking for prayers to mark this trying time, please look at Alden Solovy’s prayer for the safe return of the three teenagers.  Also be sure to read the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s statement and prayer, as well as the Association of Reform Zionists of America’s statement and prayer, regarding the kidnapped teenagers.

We continue to hope and pray for the safe return of three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Elad Yifrach.

David Broza with Rabbi David Saperstein, Jennifer Kaufman, and Jo-Ann Mort

Peace, Love and Understanding: David Broza Talks about Peace and Music at the Commission on Social Action Meeting

At the recent Commission on Social Action (CSA) meeting, CSA members and those participating in the Social Action Skills Training Seminar had the opportunity to hear David Broza perform songs from his latest album, a collaborative project in which music is used as a conduit to discuss peace.  Broza’s newest album, called “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem,” is an effort to bridge the Jewish-Arab divide in Israel.  Read more…


Extending Hearts and Minds: Journeys into the West Bank

By Sam Sussman

The West Bank is a paradoxical locale in the contemporary American Jewish experience. In the American Jewish community, we often speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but few of us have ever met a Palestinian.  Few opportunities to engage with Palestinian perspectives exist in our political, religious, social and professional circles. Our simple under-exposure to Palestinian perspectives and experiences is a detriment, not a strength, in navigating the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But what if young American Jewish leaders were offered the opportunity to compliment time in Israel with an informative, constructive two-way dialogue with Palestinian partners for peace in the West Bank? Read more…


Rabbi Rick Jacobs Responds to Harsh Critique of Zionism

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism, published a piece yesterday in response to “Zionism Unsettled,” a recent publication produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  “Zionism Unsettled” is a congregational study guide which asserts that the cause of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is the “pathology” of Zionism. Publication of the piece, which uses language befitting Israel’s harshest critics, has created a rift between Presbyterians and Jews in advance of the June conference of the Presbyterian Church at which the denominational body will vote on whether to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

Rabbi Jacobs’ piece addresses two issues discussed in “Zionism Unsettled”: the relationships of religious denominations and Israel and the relationship between different religious groups.

In response to the publication’s harsh narrative of the history of Israel and its inhabitants, Rabbi Jacobs wrote: Read more…