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October 9, 2016 7:06 am

Rabbinic Official: ‘Disgraceful’ That Jewish Group Would Exploit High Holiday Liturgy to Spread Antisemitism, Anti-Israel Vitriol

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Rabbi Joseph Potasnik. Photo: Facebook.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik. Photo: Facebook.

It is disgraceful that any group, especially a Jewish one, would use the liturgy of the high holy days for anti-Israel and antisemitic purposes, a leading official from a New York rabbinical organization told The Algemeiner on Friday. 

“We use this time to strengthen relationships with one another, not denigrate and sully the name of Jews,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, referring to a new Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) guide, called “Rosh Hashana 5777 Table Blessing Ritual.” 

The guide’s section for the traditional blessing over wine recited on Rosh Hashanah, for example, claims that the Israeli “military occupation” is responsible for repressing the Palestinian people by stealing their farmland.


JVP’s “kiddush.”

In a “special reading” before the recitation of the Shehecheyanu blessing — which is traditionally recited for new and special occasions — the guide equates the historical antisemitic persecution of Jews with “the military occupation of Palestine by Israel, done in the name of all Jews.”


JVP’s “special reading” before the recitation of the Shehecheyanu blessing.

The guide also endorses the Black Lives Matter movement, whose platform, as reported by The Algemeiner, declares Israel an “apartheid state” that “practices systemic discrimination” and “genocide” against Palestinians. In addition, it “celebrates victories” against Israel by listing “bodies of faith, institutions and corporations choosing to divest from the Occupation in 5776 [the previous Jewish year].”

JVP, Potasnik said, is entirely and solely focused on attacking Israel. “There is no discussion about what is being done to Israel, like the Jews coming under attack by Palestinian terrorists. They are using a microscope to examine Israel’s behavior and what the country does wrong. JVP has one standard for Israel and another for everyone else,” he told The Algemeiner.

The name of the group, Potasnik said, is not reflective of its mission. “They call themselves a ‘voice of peace,’ but they are anything but peaceful,” he told The Algemeiner. Judaism, he said, is “universalistic and particularistic at once, so Jews are always praying for the entire world, but JVP does not ask for peace for everyone.”

JVP is a vocal proponent of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to a recent campus watchdog study, as reported by The Algemeiner, it has “expanded its presence on American campuses…helping [anti-Israel organizations] legitimize anti-Zionist rhetoric and effectively defend against accusations of antisemitism.”

JVP did not respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

— Rachel Frommer contributed to this report.

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