NY synagogue’s leaders celebrate Palestinians’ UN victory, angering congregants

Click photo to download. Caption: Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) What many saw as a significant setback in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was a cause for celebration for leaders of one New York City synagogue last week.

The three rabbis, cantor, board president and executive director of Manhattan’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, reacting to the Palestinians’ upgrade to nonmember observer state status at the UN on Nov. 29, sent an email to congregants lauding the move prior to Shabbat on Nov. 30, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

“The vote at the UN is a great moment for us as citizens of the world,” the email—which was signed by the synagogue’s three rabbis, cantor, board president and executive director—said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition.”

The synagogue’s email compared the Palestinians’ UN victory to Israel’s achievement of independence in 1948.

“Having gained independence ourselves in this way, we are especially conscious of this,” the email said.

Additionally, the email expressed hope that the Palestinian UN vote would “mark the moment that brought about a needed sense of dignity and purpose to the Palestinian people, led to a cessation of violence and hastened the two state solution.”

B’nai Jeshurun member Allan Ripp told the Times that he and his wife were “just sort of in a state of shock” due to the email.

“It’s not as if we don’t support a two-state solution, but to say with such a warm embrace—it is like a high-five to the P.L.O., and that has left us numb,” Ripp said.

Eve Birnbaum, another member, said she was “very dismayed” that B’nai Jeshurun’s “rabbis and the board would take a position that is contrary to what many members believe, contrary to the peace process.”

Posted on December 5, 2012 .