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Pro-peace Rabbis Lobby Lawmakers to Stay Involved

A contingent of rabbis from across the spiritual spectrum came to Capitol Hill last week to push for continued U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process.

Four rabbis, one from each of the Jewish movements, presented a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to maintain American support for the process and to renew the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act, which allows U.S. aid to continue flowing to the Palestinian Authority.

Congress is scheduled to consider the controversial legislation again next month. It was extended temporarily on the eve of its expiration last month.

The four rabbis represented 600 rabbis from the Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements from across the country who signed on to the letter.

In the missive, the rabbis cited their “strong” support for “active U.S. involvement of the United States in the Middle East peace process.”

“We come to encourage ourselves and to encourage (Congress) to ardently seek peace and to pursue it,” Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the Orthodox spiritual leader of the Riverdale Jewish Center in Riverdale, N.Y., said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

He was jointed by Rabbi Shalom Lewis of the Conservative Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta, Ga.; Rabbi Sidney Schwartz of Congregation Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Rockville, Md; and Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, executive director of the N.Y.-based Association of Reform Zionists of America.

The July 13 lobbying trip as well as the letter were noted at a Senate hearing later in the day.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Near East and South Asian Subcommittee hearing on economic development in Gaza and Jericho, Sens. Hank Brown (R-Colo.), the subcommittee chairman, and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) acknowledged the rabbis’ presence.

Feinstein thanked the contingent for its efforts and Brown entered the letter into the hearing’s official record.

“I think if peace is going to be successful and economic prosperity be obtained, efforts like this are necessary, and I, for one, appreciate them very much,” Feinstein said.

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