Rabbis cancel annual call with Trump over Charlottesville response

Rabbis cancel annual call with Trump over Charlottesville response
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Top rabbis are refusing to hold an annual conference call with President Trump over his response to the violence at a Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rally.

Rabbis from four major Jewish organizations said Wednesday they won’t hold the annual call with the president to mark the upcoming Jewish holidays because they found his response to Charlottesville was “lacking in moral leadership and empathy.”

“We have concluded that President Trump’s statements during and after the tragic events in Charlottesville are so lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred that we cannot organize such a call this year,” the rabbis wrote in a statement.

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“The President’s words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia,” they wrote. “Responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, including the death of Heather Heyer, does not lie with many sides but with one side: the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists who brought their hate to a peaceful community. They must be roundly condemned at all levels.”

The rabbis — representing groups like the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Rabbinical Assembly — ended their statement by saying they pray that Trump “will recognize and remedy the grave error he has made in abetting the voices of hatred.”

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism also signed on to the statement.

Trump is facing major backlash after he blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville. One woman was killed and more than a dozen others were left injured when a car was driven into counterprotesters at the rally.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right?” Trump said in response to the violence. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I am concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.”

The holiday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, begins Sept. 20, and Yom Kippur begins Sept. 29.

The annual phone conversation between the rabbis and the president began under former President Obama, according to The Washington Post.