Local rabbis join almost 1,000 other Jewish religious leaders from around the country to oppose the proposed Iran deal.
More than 870 U.S. rabbis, across all major Jewish denominations, signed a letter urging members of Congress to oppose the Iran nuclear deal, writing that the hope for a good deal “is not yet realized.”
The letter, co-authored by Rabbis Kalman Topp of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Yonah Bookstein of Pico Shul in Los Angeles, was posted on the Care2 petition website earlier this month.
“Together, we are deeply troubled by the proposed deal, and believe this agreement will harm the short-term and long-term interests of both the United States and our allies, particularly Israel,” reads the letter. “Collectively, we feel we must do better.”
Of those signatories, at least 13 are rabbis from Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Among those who signed were Rabbis Jean-Claude Klein of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, Albert Gabbai of Mikveh Israel, Elierzer Hirsch of Mekhor Habracha and Yonah Gross of Congregation Beth Hamedrosh.
Rabbi Mitchell Delcau of Temple Judea in Bucks County said he signed the petition, which he found as it circulated around Facebook, because he hopes that it will lead to finding a “better pathway” than what the proposed deal entails.
“I’m hoping our elected officials will see there are many clergy from across the country that really believe the alternative is not simply ‘going to war,’ ” he said, “but the alternative can mean we can go back to a diplomatic solution that brings [us] back to the table to find negotiations that are a little more meaningful than the negotiations we see on the table now.”
He paused and corrected himself, “Not a little more meaningful — a lot more meaningful.”
The petition, which had 885 signatures at press time, is well on its way to reaching the online goal of 1,000 signatures by this weekend. It already has more than double the 340 rabbis’ signatures garnered in support of the deal that circulated last week with 27 signatures from local clergy.
“We placed that number 1,000 as a goal,” said Topp. “The key is that we have hundreds of rabbis from across the denominations expressing our deep concern about the deal and calling on Congress to oppose it.”
The letter, Topp said, was not circulated in response to the pro-deal letter circulated in mid-August by Ameinu, a liberal Zionist organization, and sent to Congress. Topp and Bookstein’s letter originally appeared as a full page advertisement in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles more than a month ago. At the time, Topp said, 56 rabbis from the Los Angeles area signed on; shortly thereafter, the letter was opened up to rabbis nationally.
The letter criticizes key aspects of the deal, including the lifting of the arms embargos and billions of dollars in sanctions relief without, they wrote, an “airtight, comprehensive inspections structure.”
“In my opinion, this agreement kicks the can down the road, but it’s not a can but a dangerous ticking bomb,” said Topp. “In a little more than a decade, we’ll be confronting an Iran that is stronger, bolder and has a nuclear capability with virtually zero breakout time.”
Marissa Stern provided additional reporting for this story.