Reform Jewish Leader Expresses Concern for Safety of Standing Rock Protesters

For Immediate Release
December 2, 2016

Contact: Max Rosenblum or Graham Roth
202.387.2800 |

Press Release from the Religious Action Center

WASHINGTON – Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent letters to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, expressing concern for the ongoing treatment of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The letters follow below. In them, Rabbi Pesner wrote:

I write to express our deep concern for the ongoing treatment of and danger to protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. Our tradition teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God. In recognition of the Divine spark present in all, the protesters must be treated with dignity and respect, and afforded the ability to make their views heard without fear for their safety.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. These bedrock rights guarantee the preservation of a pluralistic society in which those who espouse diverse and even conflicting views may express them without fear. Protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline are exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, and the use of excessive force by law enforcement and security threatens those freedoms. 

Rabbi Pesner’s letter to Governor Jack Dalrymple can be found here.

Rabbi Pesner’s letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch can be found here.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit for more.