PODCAST: URJ’s Rabbi Jacobs on Planned Walkout on Trump

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, is planning to lead a silent walkout as soon as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes the stage at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Monday.

“I plan to be at the Verizon Center tomorrow evening. Before Donald Trump begins his speech, I will get up and walk out,” Rabbi Jacobs said in an interview at AIPAC with Jewish Insider on “Tribal,” the Jewish Journal’s podcast. “I believe there will be hundreds of others, if not thousands, who will [follow], and we will gather in the lobby area to first study in chavrutha (companionship in Hebrew) the text from Brachot as well as the text of Abraham Joshua Heschel, reminding us that we are witnessed to the wronging of others, our own integrity is weakened. And then we will listen to [Trump’s] words. I am very curious to know what he will say about Israel. But before he starts talking about Israel, we have months and months of his hateful speech about Muslims, about immigrants, about women, and people with disabilities, and, frankly, he’s accountable for all of that.”

“We are not going to disrupt, we are not going to yell out. We are going to quietly leave before he’s even introduced,” Jacobs promised.

“It’s important to note that when we exit the hall, we will still be able to watch and to listen to the speech on the screens because we are being intellectually rigorous and consistent here. We said we are going to engage, and we are going to engage,” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, added. “We are going to, actually, study the text, talk about our enduring Jewish values, and then listen and have more conversation – not just in the room, but across the U.S., we are going to foster a healthy and robust debate, and lift our voices and opposition of the kind of bigotry, racism and hate that we have heard from this candidate.”

The Reform movement also reached out directly to Trump, requesting a meeting at the earliest possible date to discuss their concerns about his campaign rhetoric and views. According to Rabbi Pesner, the movement got “a high-level campaign response,” but have “not yet established what’s going to happen.”

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