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Rabbis join anti-racism campaign

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WASHINGTON, March 9 (JTA) — Jewish religious leaders are promising to intensify their efforts to end racism and move toward racial reconciliation.

At a White House meeting with President Clinton on Thursday, 150 religious leaders of all faiths pledged to work within their own communities and in interfaith and national efforts to bring about racial healing.

“We need to join hands more,” said Rabbi Kenneth Hain, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox umbrella group.

The continuation of the President’s Initiative on Race, the “One America” program is a “grand expedition,” Clinton told the diverse group of religious leaders. Racial and ethnic conflicts around the world inevitably have a religious component, Clinton noted, and the role of religious leaders has become even more important.

Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis joined ministers, priests, imams, preachers and others in labeling racism as a sin.

But in addition to recognizing racism as a sin, Hain said, people must take an active role in ending prejudice.

“There’s more to be done,” he said.

The Rabbinical Council has designated May 6 as the Shabbat on which it will begin its “One Humanity” project. As part of the yearlong program, the council will urge its rabbis to speak openly about racism and reconciliation, create new outreach programs to the poor and homeless and reach across racial and social lines with substantive educational programs.

As part of its response to “One America,” the Reform movement will initiate a plan to reach out to the Asian, Latino, and American Indian populations and a broad spectrum of faith communities.

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