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Reform Jews Opposing J-Street Nomination

New president of Reform Judaism, Richard Jacobs, is a J-Street supporter and serves on the board of the New Israel Fund.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/2/2011, 7:14 PM / Last Update: 5/2/2011, 7:27 PM

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A group of close to 50 Reform Jews has issued a statement of opposition to the choice of Rabbi Richard Jacobs of New York to head the U.S.-wide Union for Reform Judaism - because of his support for J Street. 

The statement against Rabbi Jacobs is, "We are Reform Jews Who Want the Reform Movement to Stand with Israel."

The letter quotes him as having said he "support[s] the goals and visions of J Street," which, the letter continued, "consistently takes positions hostile to Israel. It opposed Iran sanctions, supported [the anti-Israel] Goldstone [UN report] and opposed the US veto of the UN Security Council condemnation of Israel."
 
Jacobs is to succeed Rabbi Eric Yoffe next year. Yoffe has called J Street's opposition to Israel's anti-rocket offensive in Gaza two years ago "morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment, and also appallingly naive."

Rabbi Jacobs also serves on the board of The New Israel Fund, which has been found to have funded and backed many anti-Israel bodies, led the lawfare campaign against Israel, and strongly supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. 

In contrast, the opposition Reform group notes, Rabbi Yoffe has said, "Please, no boycotts. Israel's enemies don't need any help." 

The Reform members, from many different temples across the country, including New Hampshire, California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and elsewhere, assert that Rabbi Jacobs joined anti-Zionist Arab demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzaddik) in Jerusalem. "We question his judgment in associating himself with a group that the Jewish Agency condemns for 'opposing the idea of Israel as a Jewish homeland and promoting an anti‐Zionist agenda,'" their statement reads. "The Sheikh Jarrah Movement describes its own actions as victories against the ’cowardly Zionists' perpetrating an 'apartheid state' and 'ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.'"

The letter concludes: "We call on the Union for Reform Judaism to reconsider this divisive appointment. Do not drive mainstream Zionist Jews out of the Reform movement."
 
The New York Times reports that Rabbi Yoffe "sought to revitalize liberal Reform Judaism by returning to tradition... [He] encouraged adults to study Torah, rabbis to improve their worship services and everyone to observe Shabbat." The article was not clear on whether Rabbi Jacobs has a similar approach.