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Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Hands holding a glowing globe

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 Union for Reform Judaism Biennial.

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., the oldest synagogue in the United States, the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good...

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Rabbi Jonah Pesner standing at a podium addressing the URJ Biennial with two other speakers on each side of him

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial.

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., the oldest synagogue in the U. S., the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all...

Read More

A man and two women standing at a podium

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center, made the following remarks at the 2019 URJ Biennial in Chicago. 

Only a few short years after the founding of the United States of America, George Washington expressed in an exchange of letters with the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in the U. S., the following historic sentiment:

“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean...

Read More

  Photo by Andre Chungfor The Washington Post of TaNehisi Coates who wrote The Case for Reparations

Americans in general and faith groups in particular increasingly find ourselves reckoning with our nation’s bigoted history and struggling with how to dismantle the racist systems and structures that persist to this day. As the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, it’s time for the Reform movement to join this conversation. It’s time for us to talk reparations.

When I first read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking article "The Case for Reparations," I thought of a blessing that I, like many Jews, have said so many times throughout my life, including to...

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People marching over a bridge holding signs that read DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY MARCH PROUDLY

As we prepare to enter the High Holidays, we remember that the words of the High Holiday prayer book are written in the collective, reminding us that responsibility for misdeeds and their correction lies with the community as much as the individual. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once observed, “Some are guilty; all are responsible.”

We must all take responsibility for the state of our world. It is in this vein that yesterday, I joined leaders of 13 Reform Jewish institutions in expressing deep concern about the coarseness of American public discourse, led in too many ways by...

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