Editor's Note: At the suggestion of educator and Jewish Week columnist, Erica Brown, a number of leading voices in the Jewish community were asked to write a letter reflecting their post-election thoughts. See more letters from other leaders in the Jewish community below, and look out for part two of this issue below.
I bless you —sincerely — with an open and compassionate heart; a willingness to take seriously the impact of your words; an eagerness to hear others, especially those who are vulnerable and afraid; and a capacity for introspection and self-criticism.
During the campaign you often spoke in crude and vulgar ways — you began your campaign by demeaning many Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals”; you repeatedly spoke about immigrants and foreigners in ways that encouraged racist stereotypes; you suggested that an American-born judge could not possibly give you a fair trial because of his Mexican heritage; you openly mocked a physically disabled reporter, and disparaged females. The list, sadly, goes on and on. The Bible teaches us to love and protect the weak and the vulnerable, yet all too often you have broadcast only scorn and contempt for them. I implore you to fundamentally reorient the way you speak; to borrow language from the book of Psalms, if you are serious about uniting Americans, you must “guard your lips from speaking evil.”
You have also repeatedly winked at, and even retweeted, white supremacists. Now you have gone so far as to appoint a hero of the alt-right as your strategist. Mr. Trump, in the name of everything that is good and decent about our country, I ask you to condemn the hate, even and especially the hate you yourself have fomented.
You have spoken in recent days of your desire to unite our fractured country; I pray that this hope is sincere. But let me not mince words: Should you follow through on the more heinous of your campaign promises — should you pursue children currently protected by the so-called Dream Act; should you in any way single out racial, religious or sexual minorities for persecution, please know in no uncertain terms that Americans of conscience by the thousands and tens of thousands will fight you tooth and nail. We hope it does not come to that, but we have committed to vigilance, and we will not stand by while people are persecuted.
May you, and the office you will soon hold, be a force for what is good and righteous and just. Good luck to you.
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Next Week: Check back here for responses from Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Rabbie Ellie Kaunfer co-founder and director of Machon Hada; Steven Bayme, national director of the contemporary Jewish life department at the American Jewish Committee; Erica Brown of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at George Washington University; and Dov S. Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense (2001-2004)