A Call to Action in the New Year

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As the Jewish year draws to a close, we find ourselves standing behind Moses as he looks over into the Promised Land. In the final chapters of our cycle of Torah reading, we read of how Moses was never to enter that land, yet he saw its abundance—barley and olives, figs and pomegranates, milk and honey—and he saw all of its possibilities, both suffering and redemption.

Moses’ vision, the Torah’s vision, was of a homeland that would give birth to a new kind of society, a land where justice and loving kindness could flourish. These principles were later enshrined in the Declaration of the Independence of the state of Israel, a vision of a secure Jewish homeland embodying the highest Jewish and democratic values.

We are rabbis, cantors and rabbinical students who are committed to seeing these Jewish and democratic values manifest in the State of Israel, through the achievement of a two-state solution.

This new year, we, like Moses, stand on a precipice. The coming year will be a year of choice for Israel and for us. Israel faces historic decisions about the future: the land it will control, the nature of its democracy and the prospects for achieving long-term peace and security.

We believe Israel must be a secure homeland for the Jewish people. We believe that the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement must rise to the challenges of this moment by redrawing the lines of ‘pro-Israel’ in this country. We call upon our own leaders and our friends in Israel to make history, before history overtakes us.

Action must be taken now to strengthen and sustain Israel as a Jewish democratic state in the name of our grandparents, and for the sake of our grandchildren. We cannot stand idly by as Israel slides irrevocably towards a “one-state” solution, destined to rule over another people, losing the promise of its founding.

In Moses’ final words, he urged the Israelites to “choose life.” In this electoral season, as religious leaders of the American Jewish community, we urge our government to choose the path of life, of peace, and of a secure and democratic Israel. We urge our politicians not to make the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians a partisan political issue, but rather work together to move the peace process forward.

Therefore, we call on all our elected leaders to move forward and actively work for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And we call on our fellow Jewish community leaders to join us in working toward a two-state solution. For it is not enough to simply say we believe in peace and negotiations. There must be substance and action behind that language – and a major commitment by our community to make this work a critical priority. And that requires urgent action from us all.

May we in the American Jewish community renew our efforts for peace. We pray that the year 5773 see the flowering of cooperation and compromise in a land that has known too much bloodshed and bitterness.

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