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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Distressed by Desecration of California Synagogue

Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2000 — In response to the defacement of a synagogue in San Jose, California on Tuesday morning, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The new year should mark a time of celebration and new beginnings; however, recent events in California remind us that intolerance and hatred still plague our society. Last week's desecration of a Catholic church in Carmel and yesterday morning's defacement of Temple Emanu-El in San Jose illustrate the ignorance and bigotry that still exist throughout our nation. Any time a house of worship is defiled, it is an attack on the very fabric of our society.

Our sympathy and support go out to every member of the communities who are the victims of this horrific vandalism. As long as certain individuals choose to fear and exploit our differences instead of embracing and celebrating our diversity, no community is truly united.

Jewish tradition teaches, "You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsfolk, but incur no guilt because of them. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your neighbors. Love your fellow as yourself" (Leviticus 19: 17-18). At the start of the year 2000, let us recommit ourselves to working together to build bridges of tolerance and understanding, teaching our children that prejudice and hatred are wrong, and sending a message out to perpetrators of such hate crimes that these actions will not be tolerated.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.



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