Press Release

Hundreds of Jewish Faith Leaders Reject Divisive Attacks Against GA Senate Candidate Raphael Warnock

November 24, 2020

WASHINGTON – In response to a Republican misinformation campaign surrounding Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock’s record on Israel, nearly 200 rabbis and Jewish faith leaders organized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) issued a letter condemning attempts to drive a wedge between Black and Jewish communities, and to divide the Jewish community on the topic of Israel.

The letter reads in part:

Rev. Warnock has stated that the histories of oppression shared by the Black and Jewish communities, which includes Black Jews living at the intersection of both communities, guide him in his embrace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s declaration that “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”

Rev. Warnock recognizes that being a true friend also means being a truth-teller who does not shy away from hard conversations, and he has made no secret of his strong reservations and concerns over Israeli settlement expansion, which may impede prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The signatories include national Jewish faith leaders such as Rabbis Sharon Brous of IKAR, Jill Jacobs of T’ruah, Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Brad Artson of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, Lauren Holtzblatt, David Teutsch of Restructuring Judaism, Michael Strassfeld, Aaron Alexander of Adas Israel, and Sandra Lawson of Elon University. Among the signatories are also some of Georgia’s own rabbinic leaders, including Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and the president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Peter Berg of Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (The Temple), and Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta. All those who signed are representing themselves and not the organizations they are affiliated with.

“The Jewish and Black communities of Georgia have long been united in our mutual struggle for justice,” said JDCA board member Michael Rosenzweig who lives in Atlanta. “We have a shared history in this state and we stand with each other. This letter shows that Jewish faith leaders understand that history and stand with us. We know the truth and we won’t let others divide us.”

Warnock, who is the senior pastor of the church once led by King, has said that he opposes the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, “and its anti-Semitic underpinnings.” In addition, he supports the unprecedented $38 billion, 10-year security assistance package finalized with Israel by the Obama-Biden administration, a two-state solution rooted in the protection of Israel’s security and borders, and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. He rejects the notion that Israel is an apartheid state and opposes cutting or conditioning aid to Israel.

Georgia’s other Senate challenger, Jon Ossoff who is Jewish, has defended Warnock and called him, “a beloved friend and ally of Georgia’s Jewish community and a friend of Israel.”

The letter concludes:

All Americans, especially Jewish Americans, should reject attempts to divide the Black and Jewish communities, and to divide the Jewish community, by spreading falsehoods about Rev. Warnock. We abhor the politics of dividing traditionally marginalized communities in order to consolidate political power. The friendship between Jewish clergy and Black Christian clergy has stood strong for justice for generations, and cannot be so easily broken by bad faith actors who care little for our communities.

JDCA welcomes support from rabbis and other Jewish communal leaders who can sign onto this letter here. For a full list of the signatories please visit here, and for JDCA’s digital Georgia election hub, see here.