Monday, September 20, 2004

Group counters the picketers at Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor

Picketers have been harassing Shabbat morning services at Ann Arbor's Beth Israel Congregation every week since last Rosh Hashanah. They carry vile signs such as "Zionism Begets Nazism." While they are not physically threatening, it is a terrible precedent to have picketers interfering with Jewish religious services (the first known instance since Nazi Germany) or any other peaceful religious service for that matter.

A new group has responded with a campaign called SPURN (Synagogue Protest UNACCEPTABLE!Respond Now), with 2 major goals: 1) Break the silence of major civic and religious leaders about this anti-Semitism, and 2) Transform this negative into a positive by raising money for Magen David Adom USA, the Israeli Red Cross, turning our frustration over the picketers into constructive action.

Below are some documents that might be of interest:

Op-ed piece from Washtenaw County Jewish Federation President Neal Elyakin and Federation Executive Director Jeff Levin

Ann Arbor News editorial

As of today, 146 donors have given $6,007.50. While 129 of the 146 pledges come from members, former members, or relatives of members (including a donation of tzedakah money from a 10-year-old congregant!), 17 are from people without these synagogue ties. We have donations from Israel, Florida, and Minnesota, and word is spreading to other places. For more information, see the SPURN web site.

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