Reform Jewish Movement Calls on Its Congregations to Further Help Victims of September 11th Tragedy and Their Work in Stopping Hate Crimes
Saperstein: "We have been proud of the role that so many UAHC congregations have played as leaders in their communities, organizing interfaith services, collecting supplies and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet, there is still so much more that must be done."
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WASHINGTON, September 25, 2001- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism sent a memorandum today to the more than 900 affiliated Reform Jewish congregations across North America concerning further work they can do in their communities in the wake of the September 11th disaster.
The memo focuses on encouraging congregations to create programs and initiatives both in terms of helping the victims and their families as well as reaching out to the Muslim, Arab and Sikh American communities that have been the targets of hundreds of hate crimes in recent weeks. Programs suggestions include inviting leaders of the Muslim and Sikh communities to come address congregations, working with the interfaith community to set up programs to escort children to school and adults in public who feel threatened, opening up congregational facilities for worship if a house of worship is damaged or destroyed, organizing blood drives, having congregation members light an extra Yartzheit (memorial) candle at their homes for Yom Kippur or for the end of sheloshim (the 30-day mourning period); and, encouraging donations to various disaster relief funds.
"At this difficult time, it is critically important that we unite with all Americans and demonstrate that the values of equality, justice and fairness, upon which America and Judaism were built, were not destroyed in the attack against our nation," Saperstein said.
With concern to the reports of hundreds of hate crimes incidents involving not only Arab and Muslim Americans, but also Sikhs and others who are or appear to be from the Middle East or the Indian sub-continent, as well as their religious institutions and businesses owned and utilized by these communities, Saperstein noted, "As the frequent targets of such attacks throughout our history, we well know our mandate to stand up to such discrimination."
Saperstein commended the Reform Jewish Movement and said, "We have been proud of the role that so many UAHC congregations have played as leaders in their communities, organizing interfaith services, collecting supplies and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet, there is still so much more that must be done."
The full text of the memo is available at: www.rac.org/news/092501memo.html
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaismis the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.