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Progressive Orthodox rabbis and rabbaniyot welcome official US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – call for peace and building of partnerships

Welcoming America's recognition of Israel's capital, progressive Orthodox leadership calls for peace
The US embassy in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
The US embassy in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

The following statement is a joint statement of a group of progressive Orthodox rabbis and rabbaniyot (female Torah leaders):

The US declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel is a welcome and historic moment. This American acknowledgment is bipartisan, originally passing legislation in 1995, with the support of a Democratic administration, and reaffirmed by all subsequent administrations. There is no parallel of the International Community refusing to allow a sovereign state the right to choose its own capital within its recognized boundaries, and this step is a long overdue correction of a historical travesty and injustice. Other upright and decent nations are encouraged to follow the American lead, and similarly affirm Israel’s natural right to designate its capital.

For 3,000 years, Jewry has maintained an unbroken, deep connection to Jerusalem as its central, holy city and capital. In ancient days, the Psalmist declared “If I forget thee Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning”; in medieval times, the poet Rabbi Judah Halevi famously uttered, “O Zion, won’t you ask after the well-being of your captives”, and weeks before the reunification of the city in 1967, Naomi Shemer made the nation weep with the words “Jerusalem of gold … to all your songs, I am a violin.” Thrice daily for 2,000 years, Jews have prayed to witness their return to the city. International recognition is essentially a reflection of the reality that has existed in the hearts and souls of every Jew for millennia.

This step does not diminish the imperative of a negotiated settlement, which could include a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. Any forfeiting of Jewish sovereignty of the capital would be painful, but sacrificing part of the City of Peace for the sake of peace is a price worth paying. We call upon all parties who may be disappointed or elated by this development to demonstrate restraint.

Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty will always welcome members of all religions to its midst, and will allow unrestricted expression of beliefs, inspired by the prophet Yeshayahu’s call, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Judaism introduced the world to the vision of a messianic age in which peace and harmony reign, when poverty and injustice will be eradicated, and the dignity of all humans, of all race, color, gender and religion will be assured. This dream has always emanated from the City of Jerusalem whose very name means “teaching peace.” We invite all nations and religions of the world to join our hands and be our partners in this awe-inspiring yet practical quest, tangibly symbolized by Jerusalem.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls, and security within your citadels.’”

Rabba Dr. Carmella Abraham
Rabbi Yitzhak Ajzner
Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel
Rabbi Daniel Geretz
Rabbi Steve Greenberg
Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg
Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy
Rabbi Avram H. Herzog
Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe
Rabbi Gabriel Kretzmer Seed
Rabbi Yehoshua Looks
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman
Rabbi Doug Zelden

About the Author
Rav Yitzhak Ajzner is a member of the Beit Midrash for Halacha of Beit Hillel. He came on aliyah from Australia immediately after high school, and worked in education for 10 years, in various positions ranging from a school principal to a teacher at the hesder yeshiva in Ma’aleh Adumim. He also served as a community rabbi, and has worked as a software engineer for 18 years.
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