Until a year ago, Donald Trump was a peripheral figure in my consciousness. I never watched his reality show, The Apprentice. I could care less about his brand as a billionaire owner of hotels, resorts, and other properties. I have never read The Art of the Deal, nor any other book by him.
But since he announced his candidacy to become President of the United States, I have watched with mounting concern his statements and actions that I believe are contrary to the principles on which our democracy are founded.
I am not alone in this viewpoint. This past Monday, leaders of the Reform movement issued a statement regarding Donald Trump which reads in part:
“As a religious movement, we do not endorse or oppose any candidates – and we do not do so now. We have often listened to and, more importantly, engaged with candidates and officeholders whose views sharply differ from our own; such interactions are the essence of our political system. But Mr. Trump is not simply another candidate. In his words and actions, he makes clear that he is engaging in a new form of political discourse, and so the response to his candidacy demands a new approach, as well.
The great sage Rabbi Hillel offered us guidance centuries ago, saying, ‘Do not do unto others what you would not want done to you.’ Jewish history is replete with times when political leaders, both at home and abroad, demonized the Jewish community much as Mr. Trump now demonizes Muslims, Hispanics, and African-Americans. We, the leadership of the Reform Jewish Movement, believe we must speak up against such hate speech.”
(the full statement can be found here)
Two days ago, I was invited to add my name to a statement by the East Bay Council of Rabbis denouncing Mr. Trump. I readily agreed. Here is the text in full:
“We members of the East Bay Council of Rabbis unite in one voice to denounce the campaign message and tactics of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. As rabbis, we are committed to the preservation of sacred word, both ancient and modern. The words used by Mr. Trump have served to create hate and fear, animosity and anxiety. In his calls to bar Muslim immigration to this country; in his characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists; in his demeaning and degrading attacks on women; in his peddling of classic anti-Jewish stereotypes; in his refusal to condemn violence in his supporters; in his incitement to violence in those same supporters, including promises to cover legal fees for those who attack innocent protesters, Mr. Trump is dangerously and irresponsibly stoking the flames of anger and violence. As Jews, we know too well the physical violence that is borne from verbal violence.
We believe that, despite our theological and philosophical differences, the time has come to condemn this hateful rhetoric. We urge all people of conscience to reject Mr. Trump's rhetoric, and the rising tide of hatred it has engendered.
Serving communities that reflect the diversity of the East Bay, we each have friends and family members, companions and neighbors of all religions and ethnicities. We come together across political and denominational lines to support all members of our communities, all of them created, in the words of Genesis, in the image of God.
The Psalmist lamented the exultations of those ‘who gush out, who speak arrogantly… who gather themselves against the soul of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood’ (Psalm 94.4, 21). It is up to us to hear our Creator’s call to rebuke those who would stir up bigotry, violence, and hate. We pray that our words here today lead our nation on a path toward light and love, holiness and wholeness.”