Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Urges President of Washington Redskins to Change Name
Contact: Raanan Weintraub, (202) 387-2800 or Emily Grotta, (212) 650-4227
WASHINGTONJune 19, 2000 — In a letter issued today, Rabbi David Sapersetin urged Daniel M. Snyder, President of the Washington Redskins to change its name.
The complete text of the letter to Governor Bush:
Dear Mr. Snyder:
On behalf of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, I write today to urge you to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
The Washington Redskins franchise is certainly one of the most recognized and championed of American professional sports. Its history and tradition have attracted and maintained devoted fans for decades. Its location in our national capital makes it a focal point of interest coast to coast. However, the team's name and logo are blatantly derogatory. "Redskin," as you must know, is a racial slur, invoking a sad history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. The team's logo, an attempt to evoke the proud warrior spirit of Native American culture, is a cruel mockery of a culture all but destroyed.
Jewish tradition teaches us that "God formed Adam out of dust from all over the world: yellow clay, white sand, black loam and red soil. Therefore no one can declare to any race or color of people that they do not belong here since this soil is not their home." (Yalkut Shimoni 1:13). In 1992 the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinic arm of the Reform Jewish Movement, passed a resolution condemning professional sports teams whose names encourage stereotypical thinking. In addition, the resolution specifically "calls upon the Washington Redskins to change formally their name and to renounce all characterizations based on race or ethnic background."
Let us continue to enjoy Washington, D.C.'s team, but without mocking a true American heritage.
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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.