One day later: B’nai Jeshurun leaders regret voicing support for Palestine UN bid

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Yesterday, Phil wrote about how the leaders of the renowned Upper West Side synagogue B’nai Jeshurun sent out an email applauding Palestine’s new nonmember state status. Today, the story is their craven backpedaling. Both the JTA and New York Times report that synagogue leadership “regret” the email they sent out.

From the JTA:

Rabbis at B’nai Jeshurun are expressing “regret” over an email sent out by the prominent New York synagogue praising the United Nations vote to elevate Palestinians to non-member state status.

The rabbis of the Manhattan synagogue sent a note Thursday to congregants saying that their email last week endorsing the U.N. action had been sent prematurely and mistakenly listed several other synagogue officials as signatories.

“While we affirm the essence of our message, we feel that it is important to share with you that through a series of unfortunate internal errors, an incomplete and unedited draft of the letter was sent out which resulted in a tone which did not reflect the complexities and uncertainties of this moment,” the rabbis, Rolando Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol, wrote in their followup email.

The rabbis also wrote that they “regret the feelings of alienation that resulted from our letter.”

The rabbis add they are “passionate lovers of Israel.”

The Times reports:

The latest e-mail, signed by Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon, Marcelo R. Bronstein and Felicia L. Sol, said their initial letter to the congregation had “omitted key passages honoring the diversity of viewpoints in our community as well as links to a series of articles in the Israeli press representing a range of opinions on the U.N. vote.” Those details were included with the rabbis’ clarification. The new e-mail also expressed regret at “the feeling of alienation that resulted from our letter.”

The new letter also said that the first letter should not have included as signatories the names of the synagogue’s cantor, Ari Priven; its board president, Jeannie Blaustein; its executive director, Steve Goldberg; or its director of Israel engagement, Orli Moss.

The new letter did not retract the words in the original statement declaring that the vote at the United Nations last week “is a great moment for us as citizens of the world” and “an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition.”

Speaking by telephone Thursday, Ms. Blaustein reiterated the rabbis’ message that their original e-mail was incomplete and “did not represent the complexity of the situation.”

Yesterday, Phil said the letter represented “a significant fracture in an American Zionist community that has been afraid to openly criticize Israel.” This followup demonstrates just how afraid they truly are. It also shows the fractures aren’t nearly significant enough.

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