Crossing the line from free speech to hate speech
Daniel Freelander and Carole Sterling
On behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), we are writing to express our shock and condemnation of the South African Jewish Report’s publication of hateful and defamatory claims against Reform Jewry.
These letters cross the line from free speech into hateful speech, the kinds of incitement that should be neither tolerated nor validated in the public news arena. Not against Jews, not between Jews and not against any human being.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism, established in London in 1926 and now headquartered in Jerusalem, is the international umbrella body of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements, serving 1 200 congregations with 1,8 million members in 50 countries.
Reform Judaism has a long and distinguished history in South Africa, dating back to the founding of Temple Israel in Johannesburg in 1936. Under the bold and indomitable leadership of the late Rabbi Moses Cyrus Weiler, Reform Judaism was at the forefront in the fight for human rights and values as taught by our prophetic tradition.
Reform Jews in South Africa are an essential part of Klal Yisrael both in the country and worldwide – those who deny our legitimacy weaken the strong fabric of unity which bonds us together.
To deny the legitimacy of Reform Judaism is to deny the very core Klal Yisrael values which constitute the heritage of all Jews: Torah (study), Avodah (worship) and G’millut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness).
Our tradition teaches that Sin’at Chinam – baseless hatred – among Jews was the catalyst for some of the worst events in Jewish history.
We call upon the South African Jewish journal to discontinue publishing such hate mail and reject this incitement in future editions.
Rabbi Daniel Freelander, WUPJ President and Carole Sterling, Chair