Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
NCC Press Conference On Church Arsons

June 10, 1996- In sorrow and in solidarity, we stand today with the African American community, and all caring Americans, as we join together to fight the racism that has destroyed nearly fifty Black churches in the South. We stand together, we watch together, we mourn together, and we pray together. We pray that through these vile flames we will emerge, one community, stronger and more dedicated to eradicating hatred and prejudice from our midst.

As Jews, we will not tolerate the destruction of our neighbors' places of worship. Soon Jews all over the world will commemorate the holiday of Tisha B'Av, when we remember the grief that we felt when the ancient Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. We remember and we mourn as if we ourselves were witness to the destruction of our Holy Sanctuary. Today we see the destruction of Churches, and today we grieve and mourn as if these were our own sanctuaries, for as our sages teach, "Let your neighbor's property be as dear to you as your own...."

The Jewish community is outraged by these acts of racism. They are a betrayal of the values of tolerance and respect which emanate from our Bible and have become enshrined as fundamental American ideals.

For every church that is burned, all people of faith lose another sanctuary of God. We join with all caring Americans in condemning those that have substituted fire for words and ignorance for tolerance.

--Statement of Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
National Press Club, June 10, 1996

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