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WASHINGTON, JANUARY 15 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today joined an array of Jewish community leaders in speaking out against "hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama's religious beliefs and who he is as a person."
In joining the letter, Saperstein noted:
Sadly these attacks on Senator Obama are far from an isolated incident. In this election cycle we have seen Senator Romney criticized for being a member of the Mormon church, Governor Huckabee criticized for his religious views, and a number of other candidates asked to answer questions which smacked of suggesting a religious test for public office. We condemn all such attempts to use religious identity as a disqualification for office.
The attacks against Senator Obama are different in that they are, in significant part, directed toward the American Jewish community. I am proud to join with this impressive range of Jewish community leaders in making clear, specifically, that such attacks have no place in our community.
The full text of "Open Letter to the Jewish Community" follows:
As leaders of the Jewish community, none of whose organizations will endorse or oppose any candidate for President, we feel compelled to speak out against certain rhetoric and tactics in the current campaign that we find particularly abhorrent. Of particular concern, over the past several weeks, many in our community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama's religious beliefs and who he is as a person. These tactics attempt to drive a wedge between our community and a presidential candidate based on despicable and false attacks and innuendo based on religion. We reject these efforts to manipulate members of our community into supporting or opposing candidates.
Attempts of this sort to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of our political discourse and should be rebuffed by all who believe in our democracy. Jewish voters, like all voters, should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president. We urge everyone to make that decision based on the factual records of these candidates, and nothing less.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center William Daroff, Vice President, United Jewish Communities Nathan J. Diament, Director, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Abraham Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League Richard S. Gordon, President, American Jewish Congress David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Phyllis Snyder, President, National Council of Jewish Women Hadar Susskind, Washington Director, Jewish Council for Public Affairs