Reform Jewish Leader Welcomes New White House Effort to Counter Antisemitism

Washington, DC, December 13, 2022 - In response to the establishment of a new White House Inter-Agency Group to Counter Antisemitism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement:

"The White House's new Inter-Agency Group to Counter Antisemitism is an essential step in the national effort to combat the rise in antisemitism. I n recent months, Jewish communities across the country (including many within our own Reform Movement) have faced verbal and physical attacks, threats of violence, antisemitic flyers left on doorsteps, graffiti and vandalism, and increased antisemitism online.  It was just eleven months ago that members of our own Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX were taken hostage by an antisemite during Shabbat services. This increase in antisemitism is spurred on in part by public figures who spew antisemitic tropes, vitriol, and Holocaust denial.

I am especially pleased that the Administration clearly heard the message I and others conveyed at last week's White House roundtable on antisemitism hosted by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, where we pressed for a comprehensive approach to this terrible challenge. The task force's mandate reflects a recognition that antisemitism falls within a larger context of increased white supremacy, religious bigotry, and other forms of hate, and we appreciate that the group's future work will also address anti-Muslim bigotry and related forms of bias and discrimination.

The United States was founded on principles of religious freedom. That commitment has been a source of pride for centuries. Those moments when our collective moral beacon failed, when we failed to condemn those who trafficked in antisemitism, or other forms of religious hatred, are shameful. We repeat them at our peril. We thank President Biden and the Administration for their leadership and allyship, and we will continue to work together to ensure America's promise as a land where the freedom to worship is realized today and in the future."