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USCJ Head Identifies Struggle for the Soul of Israel




CONTACT: Shira Dicker/(917) 403.3989/shira.dicker@sd-media.com

October 18, 2012 (New York, NY) – In the wake of the shocking arrest of Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman yesterday by Israeli Police as she was reciting the Sh’ma (Hear O Israel) prayer out loud at the Western Wall, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism issued the following statement:


“The arrest in shackles of Anat Hoffman yesterday by the Israeli police for her 'crime' of saying the Sh’ma -- Judaism's central prayer, which declares faith in one God -- at the Kotel (Western Wall) is deplorable and must be condemned by all people of conscience. Her shocking, brutal, undemocratic and frankly un-Jewish treatment is a stark affirmation of the existential threat Israel is facing by extremist religious forces within the Jewish State, specifically, from its Chief Rabbinate. The Rabbinate's increasingly aggressive tactics to suppress non-Orthodox Jewish life must spur those who believe in religious pluralism to redouble their efforts to save the soul of Israel. That an incident such as this occurred during Hadassah’s Centennial conference where Prime Minister Netanyahu previously praised women for their contribution to building and supporting the state further exemplifies the urgency of repairing a deep and destructive fissure in Israel’s attitudes and policies towards its diverse citizenry.


As a rabbi, as a Zionist, as the head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and as the father of three daughters who love Israel and consider it their religious homeland -- and as a human being -- I call for the Israeli Police to issue a full public apology to Ms. Hoffman. I also call on everyone who cares about the value of a democratic, pluralistic Israel to join me in fighting for the soul of our homeland.”


Rabbi Wernick will be meeting with local members of the Masorti community in Israel as well as officials on this matter during his upcoming trip to Israel, which will take place over the next two weeks.


For further information about this statement or to arrange an interview with Rabbi Wernick either in New York or in Israel, please contact Shira Dicker at 917.403.3989 or shira.dicker@sd-media.com.


About USCJ

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is a community of nearly 630 North American and another 200 worldwide kehillot – sacred communities -- committed to a dynamic Judaism that is learned and passionate, authentic and pluralistic, joyful and accessible, egalitarian or traditional.  

Our kehillot create the conditions for a powerful and vibrant Jewish life, empowering Jews in North America to seek the presence of God, to seek meaning and purpose in Torah and mitzvot, to fully engage with Israel, and to be inspired by Judaism to improve the world and the Jewish people.  

It serves over 200,000 households in North America, representing more than one million people. More information is available at www.uscj.org.

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