More than 870 United States 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 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.”
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, who added his name to the letter on Monday, predicted that the petition would meet its goal of 1,000 signatures by the weekend. By presstime, 878 rabbis had signed on; the petition remains open until Sept. 7.
“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 a pro-deal letter circulated in mid-August and signed by 340 U.S. rabbis from the major denominations of Judaism and sponsored by Ameinu, a liberal Zionist organization that was sent to Congress. Topp and Bookstein’s letter originally appeared as a full page advertisement in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles over a month ago. At that time, Topp said, 56 rabbis from the L.A. area signed on, shortly thereafter, the letter was opened up to rabbis nationally.
The letter criticized 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.”
Echoing the content of the letter, Weinblatt said, “The nature of the whole inspections is very murky. … We know that [the Iranians] are masters of the game of deception.”
“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.”
Area rabbis who signed the letter include Michelle “Mina” Goldsmith of Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon; and Dovid Asher of Keneseth Beth Israel in Richmond; Benjamin Sharff of Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills; Benjamin Shull of Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville, and Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim in Baltimore.