Charlottesville — As white supremacists gather in Charlottesville to voice their displeasure at the removal of a statue that served to commemorate the values of the Confederacy and Gen. Robert E. Lee—a man who led hundreds of thousands of soldiers to their deaths to preserve an economy and culture built on enslaving people because of the color of their skin—rabbis will be among the clergy who are descending on the town to send the message that white supremacy will not go unchallenged.
Among the clergy making the journey to Charlottesville will be Rabbi Mordechai Liebling of Philadelphia, the son of Holocaust survivors, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and founding member of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
“The first step of all racists—whether they be defenders of slavery or genocide—is to dehumanize people. White supremacists have been emboldened since the election, with anti-Semitism and other hate crimes on the rise,” said Rabbi Liebling. “I’m making the journey to Charlottesville to take a stand for all people, because we’re all created in the the Divine image. By saying No to racists we say Yes to God.” Rabbi Liebling will be onsite in Charlottesville and available for interviews in-person and remotely.
To celebrate the Civil War as anything other than an effort for Southern states to retain slaves is an attempt to rewrite history at a time when our nation must move toward the racial justice we have yet to achieve. America must take steady steps toward a world where all people are treated equally—including by the criminal justice system and law enforcement.
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is a network of 1,800 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.