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Jewish Journal

L.A. Clergy Sign Open Letter to End Gaza Blockade

by Danielle Berrin

June 30, 2010 | 12:06 am

More than 400 clergy from around the country signed an open letter penned by the liberal lobby J Street calling for an end to Israel’s military blockade of Gaza.
The letter, which appeared as a full-page ad in The Forward last week, declares that Israel should end its “counter-productive” blockade of Gaza, which has “only strengthened Hamas” and caused “great suffering to many innocent Palestinians.”

Those sentiments earned the endorsement of hundreds of rabbis, cantors, and rabbinical and cantorial students across the denominational spectrum, including more than 30 from Los Angeles. Notable signatories from the L.A. area include rabbis Elliot Dorff (Rector, American Jewish University), Aryeh Cohen (AJU), Joshua Levine-Grater (Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center), Kenneth Chasen (Leo Baeck Temple), John Rosove (Temple Israel of Hollywood) and Richard N. Levy (director of Spiritual Growth at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion/Los Angeles), and cantors Evan Kent (Temple Isaiah) and Aviva Rosenbloom (Temple Israel of Hollywood).

Titled “Our Hope Remains” — a riff on Israel’s national anthem — the letter is a response to the international controversy surrounding the recent Gaza flotilla incident and served as a rallying cry to the American Jewish community to “become a positive force for peace.” Its authors, while optimistic in tone, lamented “the growing isolation of Israel” and cautioned that a two-state solution is necessary to ensure Israel’s long-term security.

“It is our hope that the rhetoric and actions that feed fear and violence, emanating from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, will soon give way to bold leadership,” the letter states. It also calls upon the Obama administration to see the recent crisis as an “opportunity” to promote lasting peace in the region.

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