Why Stephen Wise Synagogue is now avoiding Women’s March Inc.

ON FRIDAY EVENING — Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue announced from the pulpit, “We are disassociating from Women’s March Inc.” The Rabbi noted his congregation will join the 2019 Women’s March On NYC under the auspices of Women’s March Alliance. “As a synagogue, we will not participate in, or endorse, the 2019 D.C. march. Already in 2017, we heard rumblings of troubling accusations of anti-Semitism within and amongst the leadership of the Washington march.”

“We also knew of the intense anti-Israel, anti- Zionist views of at least one of the original organizers, who is also a fierce advocate of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, BDS. But at the time we pushed our discomfort aside. It seemed to us that the greater good was to unite with as many like-minded Americans as possible.” [Video]

SO WHY NOW? “That Tablet piece was very influential,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch told JI in a phone interview on Sunday morning. “We heard these rumblings. We heard them early on, but we suppressed them in deference to what we considered the bigger issues threatening our country… But now there are alternatives… And I think it’s important for the Jewish community to realize that the BDS aspect of the leadership of the Women’s March too was very troubling to us. Had there been alternatives just on the BDS issue itself, that would have inclined us to want to participate with the alternatives, leaving aside all of the accusations of associations with figures who are anti-Semitic.”

— On BDS backers now in Congress, Rabbi Hirsch cautioned: “I think the election of Congressional representatives who have expressed sympathy to BDS is a warning sign to the Jewish community that this perspective is encroaching in the liberal camp. I would urge the Jewish community to reach out to them as quick as possible and engage in a dialogue with them. I wouldn’t write off members of Congress from the outset because they hold these views.”

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