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Rabbi Lookstein, Withdraw from the Republican Convention

This petition had 122 supporters

Dear Rabbi Lookstein:

We are alumni of Ramaz, the institution that you led for decades.  We are deeply appreciative of the midot – the values – that we were taught at Ramaz under your leadership, values that helped us become better Jews and better human beings.

It is because of this appreciation that we write to express our deep dismay at your decision to speak at this year’s Republican National Convention, whose purpose is to nominate Donald Trump to be President of the United States, and to strongly urge you to reconsider that decision.

We express these views not because of Mr. Trump’s political affiliation; Jews, including Orthodox Jews, are proud members of both political parties.  Rather, we write to you because Mr. Trump has proven to be antithetical to the principles that Ramaz instilled in us.  We were taught at Ramaz to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust, lest it happen again – and the man who will be celebrated at the convention next week would deny entry into this country based purely on religious affiliation.  We were taught to guard against the dangers of anti-Semitism – yet Mr. Trump has used social media to publicize an anti-Semitic image popular within the white supremacist community, and has repeatedly elevated statements of support from white nationalists.  Ramaz, to the extent consistent with modern Orthodoxy, has supported the inclusion of women in both its academic and religious activities; Mr. Trump has a lengthy history of misogynistic behavior.  Ramaz taught us to be Orthodox Jews while respecting those with other beliefs; Mr. Trump consistently uses dangerous rhetoric to deepen the divisions in our society.

Perhaps most importantly, Ramaz taught us that as Orthodox Jews, we bear a special responsibility.  We never are merely representing ourselves; rather, our actions and words in public may be viewed as those of all Orthodox Jews, or Jews as a whole.  That responsibility creates an opportunity for our actions and words to serve as either a Kiddush Hashem—a sanctification of G-d’s name—or a Chillul Hashem—a desecration of His name. 

As a prominent figure in Orthodox Judaism, of course, your words and actions will carry even greater weight.  Although we recognize that you may have a personal relationship with the Trump family, your presence will be viewed as supportive of his public actions, not his private ones.  And even if your words are limited to an invocation, they will be seen as an endorsement of Mr. Trump’s hateful rhetoric, and Americans may view them as representative of not only your beliefs, but those of untold numbers of Orthodox Jews.

We strongly urge you to withdraw from the convention. 

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