March 18, 2016
Mr. Donald J. Trump
725 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear Mr. Trump,
On behalf of the 1.5 million Reform Jews of the Union for Reform Judaism and the 2,000 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, I write to request a meeting at the soonest possible date.
The Reform Jewish Movement is the largest stream of North American Jewry, comprising an active and engaged membership that has a history of involvement in issues of civic concern and social justice. From civil rights to Soviet Jewry, from climate change to Israel, we are proud of the leadership our Movement has shown within the Jewish, faith and broader communities of which we are a part. Our work reflects the unique American tradition of faith involvement in the civic affairs of the nation.
Your campaign has surfaced issues of significant concern to us. Your words, those of your surrogates, and those who have appeared at your campaign events have raised questions about your commitment to women’s equality, the right of Americans of all faiths and no faith to participate in the political process and hold political office, the rights of people with disabilities, our status as a nation of immigrants, the repudiation of torture, and more. We are eager to speak with you directly about these concerns and explore your views in greater depth.
• On Mexican Immigrants: "They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists" (6/16/15). How do such statements, offensive to Hispanics and others, reflect our shared history as a nation of immigrants or further our national security?
• On Women: Following the first Republican debate, you retweeted a comment from a supporter who crudely referred to moderator Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” (8/24/15). How does this statement reflect respect for women as equal contributors to all aspects of society?
• On Jews: At your March 14 campaign rally in North Carolina, Pastor Mark Burns spoke from the podium and said, "Bernie Sanders who doesn't believe in God. How in the world are we going to let Bernie? I mean really? Listen, Bernie gotta get saved. He gotta meet Jesus” (3/14/15). How does your decision not to repudiate these remarks reflect your beliefs about religious tests for office, which are unconstitutional and hurtful to Americans of faith?
• On Muslims: Your campaign has called for a "Complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on" (12/7/15). Does this proposal suggest your belief that all Muslims are a threat to national security? And how does this position reflect our nation’s history as a beacon of religious liberty and a haven for those seeking persecution?
• On Violence: You have told supporters to “Just knock the hell” out of protestors, promising to pay their legal fees (2/1/16). How does your refusal to explicitly condemn violence reflect our nation’s commitment to free speech and robust political discourse?
Our views on leadership are inspired by the words of Pirke Avot 4:1 (The Ethics of the Fathers) that remind us: “Who is wise? One who learns from every person. Who is strong? One who subdues one’s evil inclination. Who is rich? One who is happy with one’s lot. Who is honored? One who honors others.”
I look forward to discussing these and other areas of concern with you and to your swift and affirmative reply. I will follow-up with a phone call to set up a time to meet.
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director