Hundreds of rabbis and synagogue and community leaders from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, September 9–in the midst of Congress’s debate over the Iran nuclear deal–to call on Congress to reject the bad deal that paves a pathway to a nuclear-armed Iran. The rally was organized by the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).
The rabbis at the rally–representing tens of thousands of members of the American Jewish community–came from more than 20 states and every region of the country.
Held just days before Rosh Hashanah and opening with a shofar blast, the rally was reminiscent of the historic Rabbis’ March in 1943–just days before Yom Kippur–in support of American and Allied action to stop the destruction of European Jewry.
Speakers at the rally included Martin Nachimson, president of the Orthodox Union; Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City; Rabbi Marc Penner, dean of Yeshiva University Seminary; Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue; Rabbi Kalman Topp of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills; Rabbi Lenny Matanky of Congregation K.I.N.S. in Chicago and honorary president of the RCA; and Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union.
Martin Nachimson stated: “The reason we are gathered here–in the shadow of the Capitol–is to make a clear statement that this deal is morally repugnant. Under this deal, the Iranian regime will be given greater legitimacy, power, and money, despite its being deeply anti-American, anti-Semitic, and the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
Rabbi Baum commented on why hundreds of rabbis would come to Washington in the face of a vote that appears to be set. He noted that the Talmud teaches that “When you have an opportunity to scream in dissent and you are silent, you have done wrong. It isn’t only about the result–it’s that silence in the face of terror is not an option. Silence in the face of terror is unacceptable.”
Rabbi Lookstein also noted that the deal will give legitimacy and financial power to Iran’s leaders–leaders who support terror worldwide and openly threaten the State of Israel as well as the United States. “This is why, days before the Day of Judgment, I am here with my fellow rabbis to raise our moral objection to the nuclear deal with Iran,” he said.
Rabbi Penner remarked that, as Jews, we recognize that evil exists in the world. “Iran is evil–and they will do evil–if good men do nothing,” he said. With Rosh Hashanah beginning on Sunday night, “we ask to be given clarity and strength. Clarity to see evil for what it is and strength to fight those who would do us harm,” he added.
Closing the rally by comparing the upcoming vote and the Iran deal to an “Alice in Wonderland” moment, Allen Fagin called on the entire Jewish community to stand together in support of ongoing support for Israel’s security and defense as well as the enforcement and expansion of non-nuclear related sanctions against Iran. “And we need to be vigilant and vocal to make certain that the tens of billions of dollars to which Iran will gain unfettered access through sanctions relief is not used to arm her terrorist proxies,” he said.
After the rally, the hundreds of rabbis participated in lobbying meetings with U.S. senators and representatives.