Orthodox Statement on Spiritual Resistance


We the undersigned group of American Modern Orthodox rabbis, speaking as individuals, have come together to call upon our community, and upon the broader Jewish community as well, to commit to non-partisan acts of spiritual resistance during this time of grim challenge for our country.

Our tradition’s calendar has us currently reading from the Book of Exodus, and the parallels between this classic narrative and our current political reality are startling and disturbing. New leadership suddenly coalesces around the demonization of a minority religious population, and extreme measures are put into place to control their growth and movement. We know where the Exodus story goes – quickly into violence and slavery – and we believe that one of its core lessons is to be alert to signs of danger, and to act before it becomes too late.

In those days, the Children of Israel cried out and God heard them. In our time, too, voices of the oppressed, marginalized, maligned and stigmatized are crying out. They are in fear of deportation. They are in dread of succumbing to illness with no healthcare. They are filled with anxiety that they will lose their basic civil protections because of who they choose to marry.

Our Sages taught that one may not with good conscience take part in actions with a government official who acts on his or her own authority or does not consider him or herself bound by any limits (Bava Kama 113b). Authority is only just and righteous when it is proscribed by law and by civic norms. Any leader who taunts, harasses, threatens and intimidates the citizens and residents of his country with abandon is one whose policies and attitudes we must respond to with acts of spiritual resistance.

We, therefore, urge our community to raise their voices, pray with their feet and join hand in hand with others throughout the country in resisting an administration that poses a grave threat to our democracy. Our acts of spiritual resistance must be done with civility, acting in the highest values of non-violence and reflecting the loftiest articulation of our middot tovot.

The Jewish people are an unusual people. We occupy a space in between the parts, between the powerful and the powerless. We are in a unique position to leverage our privilege to lift up the vulnerable, amplify their voices and work to ensure that our great nation, the United States of America, remains a beacon of welcome, hope and democracy for the world.

We call upon our community to pursue righteousness and justice vigorously, challenge oppressive and dangerous policies enacted by the current administration, and to ensure that justice rolls down like a river and righteousness like a never-ending stream.

Signed —

Rabbi David Almog

Rabbi Daniel Askenazi

Rabbi Michael Emerson

Rabbi Marc Gitler

Rabbi Daniel Goodman

Rabbi Ben Greenberg

Rabbi David Jaffe

Rabbi David Kalb

Rabbi David Kasher

Rabbi Will Keller

Rabbi Dr. Ariel Mayse

Rabbi Avram Mlotek

Rosh Kehillah Dina Najman

Rabbi Aaron Potek

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

Rabbi Ben Shefter

Rabbi Aaron Shub

Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

Rabbi Dan Smokler

Rabbi Mark Urkowitz

Rabbi Devin Villarreal

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz