Rabbi David Ellenson joined the Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University, and Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, in greeting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the rally on behalf of Israel, held at Baruch College in New York on Sunday, May 22, 2005.
Rabbi Ellenson's words of greeting and the Haaretz article of May 23, 2005 about this event follow:
Greetings to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Rabbi David Ellenson
President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
May 22, 2005
Adoni Rosh Hamemshalah - Mr. Prime Minister:
On behalf of the Hebrew Union College, the rabbinical seminary of Reform Judaism, it is my great honor to greet you today. Our community is profoundly grateful to you for your powerful commitment to Jewish peoplehood. Your support of Birthright Israel and your initiation of Masa have displayed your love of am yisrael. Through these programs you have demonstrated that the link between the Jewish community of Medinat Yisrael and the Tfutzot cannot be broken. You truly understand that kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh - that all Israel is responsible for one another.
Moreover, your current support of hitnatkut has demonstrated your genuine courage. You have confronted the demands of the hour, and have displayed a brave and measured style of leadership by advocating disengagement from Gaza and parts of the Shomron.
To be sure, concessions of such far-reaching nature are very painful. Yet, the decisions you are making are of momentous importance to Medinat Yisrael and all its citizens. Your responsibility is great and your guidance is inspiring.
Our tradition asserts that a prudent leader must consider the anticipated outcome of his deeds. As the Mishnah states, "Mihu hacham - Who is wise? Ha-roeh et ha-nolad - the one who foresees future developments through intelligent analysis."
Kevod Rosh Ha-Memshalah, the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community stands with you in support of disengagement. We recognize that there is no other path to peace and no other possibility for genuine security for Israel in the future.
Some in Israel and abroad have protested your decision. Yet, you have persevered because you know that ours is a time that demands statesmanship. Our debt to you is great for you have given the State of Israel and the Jewish people a new vision -- indeed, a new hope. And so, we can recite with renewed confidence, the prayer for our beloved Medinat Yisrael.
"Avinu shebashamayim, tzur yisrael v'goalo, bless the State of Israel, with its promise of redemption. Hagein 'aleha b'evrat hasdekha ufros 'aleha sukkot shelomecha - Shield it with your love, and spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders with Your light and Your truth. Help them with your good counsel. Bless the land with peace and its inhabitants with lasting joy, and let us say, amen."
Haaretz - May 23, 2005
Jewish Leaders in New York Support the Prime Minister: They Uphold Disengagement
By Aluf Ben
Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, began yesterday his US visit, by meeting with the Jewish community. At a gathering at Baruch College, a thousand representatives from various Jewish organizations took part in the event. The organizations' leaders stood with Sharon in support of his Disengagement Plan. The outgoing chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, James Tisch, read a statement of support. It was endorsed by the Conference following a prolonged debate.
The leaders of the three seminaries, representing Jewish denominations in the US, addressed Sharon's Disengagement plan. The president of the reform Hebrew Union College, David Ellenson, spoke about the "enormous importance" of the plan; the president of the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Ismar Shorsh, "saluted Sharon's leadership in the face of the intifada and his decision to withdraw from Gaza, and called on all to avoid an internal war"; The president of the orthodox Yeshiva University, Richard Joel, was more restrained: "we stand behind Israel regardless of our opinions."
Sharon dedicated most of his speech to strengthening the bond between Israel and Diaspora Jews. He said that the lives of Jews in the Diaspora are not in danger, but their lives as Jews are endangered. According to him, "assimilation is more dangerous today than ever before." Today, Sharon will be meeting with major investors and with Federation leaders in NY. Tomorrow, in Washington, he will speak at AIPAC, and later meet with Evangelist leaders.