As U.S. Prepares to Unveil New Sudan Policy, Over 100 Rabbis Urge Stronger Steps on Darfur

News Release
October 19, 2009

WASHINGTON –  As the Obama administration prepares to unveil its new policy toward Sudan, more than one hundred rabbis from around the country have sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to take stronger steps to counter the Darfur genocide.

“President Obama last year called for ‘real pressure on the Sudanese government’ to stop the Darfur genocide, and we hope he will proceed accordingly, ” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., which organized the rabbis’ letter.

The 118 rabbis urged President Obama to “impose the strongest possible sanctions on the Sudanese government” and “put pressure on Sudan’s allies to stop propping up its genocidal regime.”  China, Russia, and the Arab League have provided the Sudanese government with crucial assistance.

The rabbis’ letter also urged the president to take “practical steps to implement the International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.”

In recent months, Bashir has traveled openly to a number of Arab and African countries, yet there have been no attempts to arrest him.

The Wyman Institute sponsors “Bashir Watch,” a project that tracks President Bashir’s travels and urges governments to treat Bashir as a pariah and cooperate in efforts to arrest him.

The letter from the 118 rabbis noted that “The Jewish community’s memories of the Holocaust provide a powerful reminder of the importance of taking strong action to stop genocide, and to punish the perpetrators of genocide.”

The signatories on the letter, representing a broad religious and political cross-section of the American Jewish community, include senior leaders of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist movements, among them three past presidents of the Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis; a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association; the chairman of this year’s national convention of the Rabbinical Assembly [Conservative]; the director of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future; the executive director of the International Rabbinic Fellowship; and a past chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

The text of the letter, and the complete list of signatories, follows below.

*     *     *

The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies 

October 19, 2009

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President,

We were heartened by your statement last year that “There must be real pressure placed on the Sudanese government.  We know from past experience that it will take a great deal to get them to do to the right thing.”

The Jewish community’s memories of the Holocaust provide a powerful reminder of the importance of taking strong action to stop genocide, and to punish the perpetrators of genocide.

We therefore hope that your policy with regard to Darfur will include the imposition of the strongest possible sanctions on the Sudanese government, pressure on Sudan’s allies to stop propping up its genocidal regime, and practical steps to implement the International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.


Rabbi Peter S. Knobel

Immediate Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Beth Emet the Free Synagogue – Evanston, IL

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff

Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Vice President for Special Projects, Hebrew Union College

Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanu-El – Westfield, NJ

Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman

Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

The Jewish Center of the Hamptons – East Hampton NY

Rabbi Barbara Penzner

Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Temple Hillel B’nai Torah – Boston, MA

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt

Chairman, 2009 Rabbinical Assembly national convention

Past President, Washington Board of Rabbis

Congregation B’nai Tzedek – Potomac, MD

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg

Founding President, Jewish Life Network

Former Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council (2000-2002)

Rabbi David Adelson

East End Temple – New York, NY

Rabbi Alison P. Adler

Congregation Mishkan Israel – Hamden, CT

Rabbi Richard D. Agler

Congregation B’nai Israel – Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Andy Bachman

Congregation Beth ElohimBrooklyn, NY

Rabbi Lewis M. Barth

Hebrew Union College – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Brian Beal

Templ Beth Torah – Upper Nyack, NY

Rabbi Karen Bender
Temple Judea – Tarzana, CA

Rabbi James Bennett

Congregation Shaare Emeth – St. Louis, MO

Rabbi Shalom Z. Berger, Ed.D.

The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education

Bar-Ilan University

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

The David Mitzner Dean

Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, CA

Rabbi Dr. Jack J. Cohen

Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Phil Cohen

American Hebrew Academy – Greensboro, NC

Rabbi Susan S. Conforti

Chaplain, VITAS Innovative Hospice – Irvine, CA

Rabbi Marc Disick

Temple Sinai – Stamford, CT

Rabbi Leon Wiener Dow

Binah Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture

Rabbi Mark Dratch

Yeshiva University

Rabbi Ira Ebbin

Beth Zion CongregationMontreal, QUE

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

Congregation Beth Elohim – Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Joshua Feigelson

Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University

Rabbi Dr. Paul (Shaul) R. Feinberg

Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman

Congregation Emek Beracha – Palo Alto, CA

Rabbi Dov Fischer

Young Israel of Orange County

Rabbi David Forman

Founding Chair, Rabbis for Human Rights

Rabbi Aaron Frank

Lower School Principal, Beth Tfilloh Community Day School – Baltimore, MD

Rabbi John Franken

Temple Ohabei Shalom – Brookline, MA

Rabbi Binny Freedman

Dean, Yeshivat Orayta; Director, Isralight

Rabbi Mark Friedman

Jewish Family Services – Ottawa, ON

Rabbi Ronne Friedman

Temple Israel – Boston, MA

Rabbi Zev Friedman

Dean, Rambam Mesivta – Lawrence, NY

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, D. Min., DD
Congregation Beth Israel – West Hartford, CT

Rabbi Joyce Galaski

Congregation Ahavas AchimWestfield, MA

Rabbi David Gelfand
Temple Israel – New York, NY

Rabbi Dr. Gershon C. Gewirtz

Young Israel Synagogue – Brookline, MA

Rabbi David M. Glickman

Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas, TX

Rabbi Alan Goldman

Faculty, RavSiach- Melitz

Rabbi Andrea Goldstein

Congregation Shaare Emeth – St. Louis, MO

Rabbi Marvin Goodman

JCF Rabbi in Residence

Northern California Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow

Congregation Rodeph Sholom – New York, NY

Rabbi Dr. Joel Hecker

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Rabbi Herzl Hefter

Yeshiva Hamivtar – Efrat, Israel

Rabbi Sidney M. Helbraun

Temple Beth-El – Northbrook, IL

Rabbi Jason Herman

Executive Director, International Rabbinic Fellowship

West Side Jewish Center – New York, NY

Rabbi Leah M. Herz

Temple Israel – Canton, OH

Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz

Temple Sholom – Greenwich, CT

Rabbi Fred Hyman

Congregation Bani Torah – Longmeadow, MA

Rabbi Steven L. Jacobs

Temple Emanu-ElTuscaloosa, AL

Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan

B’nai Israel – Albany, GA

Rabbi Stephen Karol

Temple Isaiah – Stony Brook, NY

Rabbi Rena H. Kieval

Congregation Ohav Shalom – Albany, NY

Rabbi Paul Kipnes

Congregation Or Ami – Calabasas, CA

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

Temple Emanu-El – Closter, NJ

Rabbi David Klatzker

Temple Ner Tamid – Peabody, MA

Rabbi Tzvi Klugerman

Middle School Principal, Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD

Rabbi Douglas Kohn

Congregation Emanu El – San Bernardino, CA

Rabbi Yitzchak KolakowskiNachalei Emunah Institute Richmond, VARabbi Stephanie KolinTemple Israel – Boston, MARabbi Simcha KraussYoung Israel of Hillcrest, NY

Rabbi Levi D. Lauer

Founding Executive Director, ATZUM-Justice Works

Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein

Temple Sinai – Amherst, NY

Rabbi Stan Levy

Congregation B’nai Horin-Children of Freedom – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Seth M. Limmer

Congregation B’nai Yisrael – Armonk, NY

Rabbi Dennis Linson

Temple Judea – Laguna Hills, CA

Rabbi Greg Litcofsky

Temple Shir Tikva – Wayland, MA

Rabbi Alan E. Litwak

Temple Sinai – North Miami Beach, FL

Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman

Senior Scholar, Temple Israel – Boston MA

Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler

Temple Judea Mizpah – Skokie, IL

Rabbi Avis D. Miller

President, Open Dor Foundation

Rabbi Jason Miller

Congregation T’chiyah – Oak Park, MI

Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh

Temple Israel of Hollywood – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Stephen F. Moch

Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Rabbi Steve Moss

B’nai Israel – Oakdeal, NY

Rabbi David Oler

Congregation Beth Or – Deerfield, IL

Rabbi Richard Plavin

Beth Sholom B’nai Israel – Manchester, CT

Rabbi Eric Polokoff

B’nai Israel – Southbury, CT

Rabbi Jeff Portman

Agudas Achim Congregation – Iowa City, IA

Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko

Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation – Montreal, QUE

Rabbi Sanford Ragins

Leo Baeck Temple – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Debra Robbins

Temple Emanu-El – Dallas, TX

Rabbi Adam Rosenthal

Peninsula Sina Congregation – Foster City, CA

Rabbi Sara Sapadin

Temple Israel of the City of New York

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna

University Chaplain, New York University

Rabbi Mordechai Y. Scher

Beit Midrash Kol BeRamah – Santa Fe, NM

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger

Community Kollel – Dallas, TX

Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld

Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hill, NY

Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld

Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hill

Michael Schudrich

Chief RabbiJewish Community of Poland

Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman

Congregation B’nai Chaim – Morrison, CO

Rabbi Sanford Seltzer

Interreligious Center on Public Life

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus

Temple De Hirsch Sinai – Seattle, WA

Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro

Congregation Beth ShalomRed Bank, NJ

Rabbi Toni Shy

Marlboro Jewish Center – Marlboro, NJ

Rabbi Eric A. Silver

Temple Beth David – Cheshire, CT

Rabbi Ross Singer

Beth Tfiloh, Pikesville MD

Rabbi Suzanne Singer

Temple Beth El – Riverside, CA

Rabbi Eric J. Siroka

Temple Beth-El – South Bend, IN

Rabbi Hesch Sommer, D.Min.

Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth TikvahMadison, CT

Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz

Cong. Tifereth Beth David JerusalemCote St. Luc, QUE

Rabbi Keith Stern

Temple Beth Avodah – Newton, MA

Rabbi Kenneth A. Stern

Congregation Gesher Shalom – Fort Lee, NJ

Rabbi Andrew Straus

Temple Emanuel – Tempe, AZ

Rabbi Harvey M. Tattelbaum

Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Shaaray Tefila – New York, NY

Rabbi Lawrence Teitelman

Young Israel of New Hyde Park, NY

Rabbi Dr. Jeremiah Unterman

Past Director, Association of Modern Orthodox Day Schools & Yeshiva High Schools

Rabbi Chaim Wasserman

Emeritus, Young Israel of Passaic – Clifton, NJ

President, Council of Young Israels

Rabbi Mayer Waxman

Director of Synagogue Services, Orthodox Union

Rabbi Elchanan J. Weinbach

Head of School, Shalhevet High School – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Arthur Weiner

Jewish Community Center of Paramus, NJ

Rabbi Elie Weinstock

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun – New York, NY

Rabbi Jeffrey Wildstein

Temple Beth David – Westwood, MA

Rabbi David Wise

Hollis Hills Jewish Center – Flushing, NY

Rabbi Irvin M. Wise

Adath Israel Congregation – Cincinnati, OH

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

Center for Jewish Life – Hillel at Princeton University

Rabbi Elaine Zecher

Temple Israel – Boston, MA

Rabbi Irwin A. Zeplowitz

The Community Synagogue – Port Washington, NY

Rabbi Henry A. Zoob

Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth David – Westwood, MA

(Institutions listed for identification purposes only.)