My friend, Ken Bob, is in Israel as I write this, and he just published a blog at The Times of Israel on a pressing court case to be decided at the end of March concerning the fate of Palestinian homes in the Jerusalem area village of Al-Walaja that are threatened with demolition by the Israeli government.

You can find Ken’s blog here – an important read –

Earlier this week, Ken asked me to write a second letter to Yair Lapid, Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the 237 American Rabbis who wrote in December to Lapid urging him to save these homes. Here is my letter followed by our initial letter from December and the names of all the signatories.

Dear Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lapid,

I am one of 237 American Rabbis who signed a letter to you in December, 2021 expressing our hope that you will side with the villagers of Al-Walaja to preserve their homes and prevent their demolition.

50 members of the United States Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Blinken last week asking him to speak with you about this unfair, Catch-22 situation.

In our minds, this is a matter of fairness, tzedek, and rachmanut to the people living in this village who simply want to stay in their homes and live out their lives in peace.

Please do everything you can to end the anxiety they feel and resolve this case in their favor.

With respect and admiration,

Rabbi John L. Rosove – Senior Rabbi Emeritus, *Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles

*Former National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America

*for identification purposes only

December 20, 2021

His Excellency Yair Lapid
Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
9 Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard
Jerusalem 9195022

Dear Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lapid:

As American rabbis and Jewish community leaders who hope for security, peace, and justice in the state of Israel, we are writing to express our deep concern and distress over the ongoing home demolitions in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja in East Jerusalem and the lack of intervention thus far from the Israeli government to stop them. Time is running out: on Dec. 26, the Supreme Court may allow the demolition of 38 homes and set a precedent for the potential mass dispossession of the entire section of al-Walaja that Israel annexed in 1967. We call on you to intervene and prevent this humanitarian disaster.

It aggrieves us to know that for the Palestinian residents of the part of al-Walaja that was annexed in 1967 to the Jerusalem municipality, building on their lands is forbidden– and that as a result, they have been punished with the demolition of their homes. In addition to the 38 homes under question on Dec. 26, during the past five years some 30 residential homes have been demolished, and four in only the past few months. To date, the approximately 1,000 people residing in the annexed part of the village live under constant threat of demolition at the hands of the Israeli authorities. Meanwhile, the Israeli neighborhoods and settlements right next to al-Walaja– a number of which are built on al-Walaja’s lands– continue expanding.

Since 1967, the Israeli government has failed to fulfill its responsibility to draw a zoning plan for the annexed part of al-Walaja. The residents of al-Walaja have done everything they can, even taking it upon themselves to draw up and submit a zoning plan of their own, a process that requires tremendous investment of effort and money. After putting it on hold for over fifteen years, in January 2021, the District Committee rejected the plan. By preventing al-Walaja the basic right to fair planning, the Israeli authorities essentially have left the residents of al-Walaja with one of two choices: building “illegally” on the land they own, or exile from the village and lands that they have cultivated for generations.

We feel it worth mentioning that the al-Walaja community is preserving an ancient agricultural heritage. To this day its beautiful terraces are all traditionally hand-cultivated by the villagers with no modern implements. Thus, it has been called by the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature “a unique example of a living biblical landscape.”

We believe that home demolitions do not reflect the values on which the state of Israel was founded, and certainly not those to which it must aspire.

Currently, legal appeals have delayed the execution of the demolition orders for 38 families’ homes. Dozens of other families in the Jerusalem part of al-Walaja are under threat of home demolition. Understanding that the demolitions may be carried out following the hearing on Dec. 26, we ask that you intervene and call on Israel to:

–Immediately freeze ALL demolitions in al-Walaja.
–In tandem, work with the planning authorities to advance an equitable planning solution that will formally authorize existing homes and provide for proper further residential development of al-Walaja in fulfillment of the Israeli government’s obligation to uphold the community’s rights to housing and shelter.

Rabbi Rachel Adelman, Hebrew College & WA Square Minyan MA
Rabbi Esther Adler, Mount Zion Temple MN
Rabbi Alana Alpert, Congregation T’chiyah MI
Rabbi Doug Alpert, Congregation Kol Ami-KC MO
Rabbi Renni Altman, Vassar Temple NY
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash RI
Rabbi Toba August, TSSB CA
Rabbi Susan Averbach, Society for Humanistic Judaism CA
Rabbi Benjamin Barnett, Havurah Shalom OR
Rabbi Phyllis Berman, ALEPH Ordination Program PA
Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, Temple Emanuel IA
Rabbi Binyamin Biber, President, Assn of Humanistic Rabbis – N. America MI
Rabbi Debra Sue Cantor, B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom CT
Rabbi Adam Chalom, Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation IL
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, American Jewish University CA
Rabbi Howard Cohen, Congregation Shirat Hayam MA
Rabbi Norman Cohen, Bet Shalom Congregation MN
Rabbi Michael Davis, Hebrew Seminary IL,
Rabbi Malka Drucker, Temple Har Shalom CA
Rabbi Shoshana Dworsky, Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges MN
Rabbi Doris Dyen, Makom HaLev PA
Rabbi David Eber, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation IL
Rabbi Laurence Edwards, Congregation Or Chadash, Emeritus IL
Rabbi Charles Feiny, Interfaith Action for Human Rights Wash. DC
Rabbi Jeff Foust, Spiritual Life Center Bentley University MA
Rabbi Bob Gluck, University at Albany NY
Rabbi Shefa Gold, CDEEP NM
Rabbi Susan Goldberg, Nefesh CA
Rabbi Monica Gomery, Kol Tsedek Synagogue PA
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, BackYard Mishkan CA
Rabbi Arthur Green, Hebrew College MA
Rabbi Nadya Gross, Pardes Levavot: a Jewish Renewal Congregation CO
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute NY
Rabbi Maurice Harris, Reconstructing Judaism PARabbi Shai Held, Hadar NY
Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen, Temple Emanu-El TX
Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Tikkun Olam Chavurah PA
Rabbi Daniel Isaak, Congregation Neveh Shalom OR
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah NY
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Union for Reform Judaism NY
Rabbi Marisa Elana James, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah NY
Rabbi Juliana Karol, Congregation Rodeph Sholom NY
Rabbi Peter Kasdan, Temple Emanu-El of West Essex NJ
Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Faith Commons TX
Rabbi Karen Landy, Havurat Shalom in Andover, MA MA
Rabbi David Lazar, Or Hamidbar CA
Rabbi Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, Congregation Shir Tikvah MN
Rabbi Mark Levin, Congregation Beth Torah KS
Rabbi Seth Limmer, Chicago Sinai Congregation IL
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Rabbi Emerita, Kolot Chayeinu NY
Rabbi Janet Liss, North Country Reform Temple NY
Rabbi Sanford Marcus, Tree of Life congregation, Columbia SC
Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, The Kitchen CA
Rabbi Rachel Mikva, Chicago Theological Seminary IL
Rabbi Carol Mitchell, Temple Beth Elohim MA
Rabbi David Mivasair, Ahavat Olam Synagogue PA
Rabbi Nina Mizrahi, Ames Jewish Congregation IA
Rabbi Dev Noily, Kehilla Community Synagogue CA
Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Kavana WA
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Wash. DC
Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Congregation Beth Elohim MA
Rabbi David Saperstein, Dir. Emeritus, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Wash. DC
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, Bethesda Jewish Congregation MD
Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel Jewish Community MD
Rabbi Misha Shulman, The New Shul NY
Rabbi Suzanne Singer, Temple Beth El CA
Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Congregation Dorshei Tzedek MA
Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, Mayim Rabim MN
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion Temple MN
Rabbi Robert Tabak, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association PA
Rabbi David Teutsch, Reconstructing Judaism PA
Rabbi Lennard Thal, SrVP Emeritus, Union for Reform Judaism NY
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Sr Rabbi Emeritus. Temple Israel Center NY
Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow, The Shalom Center PA
Rabbi Josh Weinberg, Union for Reform Judaism NY
Rabbi Max Weiss, Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion, Rabbi IL
Rabbi Rachel Weiss, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation IL
Rabbi Alex Weissman, Congregation Agudas Achim MA
Rabbi David Dine Wirtschafter, Temple Adath Israel KY
Rabbi Lina Zerbarini, Kehillath Shalom Synagogue NY
Rabbi Brian Zimmerman, Beth El Fort Worth TX

Rabbi Morris Allen MN
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert PA
Rabbi Emily Aronson NY
Rabbi Allen Bennett CA
Rabbi Yosef Berman Wash. DC
Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein IL
Rabbi Edward Bernstein FL
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch WI
Rabbi Rena Blumenthal NY
Rabbi Rachael Bregman GA
Rabbi Caryn Broitman MA
Rabbi Harold Caminker NC
Rabbi Michael Tevya Cohen TX
Rabbi Meryl Crean PA
Rabbi Jill Crimmings MN
Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz CA
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti RI
Rabbi Alexander Davis MN
Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus IL
Rabbi George Driesen MD
Rabbi Judith Edelstein NY
Rabbi Amy Eilberg CA
Rabbi Lewis Eron NJ
Rabbi Rachel Esserman NY
Rabbi Fern Feldman WA
Rabbi Ruth Gais NJ
Rabbi Laura Gelker CA
Rabbi Stuart Gershon NC
Rabbi Rosalind Gold VA
Rabbi Megan GoldMarche IL
Rabbi Debra Goldstein MA
Rabbi Maralee Gordon IL
Rabbi David Greenstein NJ
Rabbi Suzanne Griffel IN
Rabbi Rayna Grossman PA
Rabbi B. Charles Herring AZ
Rabbi Justin Kerber IN
Rabbi Paul Kipnes CA
Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman MN
Rabbi Michael Kramer DE
Rabbi Ronald Kronish NY
Rabbi Adam Lautman MD
Rabbi Joshua Lesser GA
Rabbi David Levin PA
Rabbi Tamar Magill-Grimm MN
Rabbi Paula Marcus CA
Rabbi Susan Marks FL

Rabbi Jonathan Miller MD
Rabbi Catherine Nemiroff MN
Rabbi Salem Pearce NC
Rabbi William Plevan NY
Rabbi Robin Podolsky CA
Rabbi James Ponet CT
Rabbi Aaron Portman NY
Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum MA
Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg MN
Rabbi John Rosove CA
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg IL
Rabbi Elisheva Salamo CA
Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller CA
Rabbi Aliza Schwartz PA
Rabbi Stephen Segar OH
Rabbi Judith Seid, CA
Rabbi Gerald Serotta MD
Rabbi David Steinberg MN
Rabbi Danielle Stillman VT
Rabbi Joshua Samuel Taub TX
Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman NY
Rabbi Burt Visotzky NY
Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish NY
Rabbi Brian Walt MA
Rabbi Abi Weber PA
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman PA
Rabbi Sheila Weinberg PA
Rabbi Ora Weiss MA
Rabbi Bridget Wynne CA
David Abraham, Educator FL
Hannah Bender, Rabbinical Student CA
Nancy Bernstein, J Street National Board member PA
Emma Sofia Born, Jewish Chaplain, AJRCA CA
Sarah Brammer-Shlay, Rabbinical Student PA
Caleb Bromberg, Rabbinical Student, Jewish Theological Seminary NY
Max Buchdahl, Rabbinical Student, Jewish Theological Seminary NY
Pini Herman, Board Member CA
Willemina Davidson, Rabbinical Student, Jewish Educator MA
Carly Dreme Calbreath, Educator MA
Ren Finkel, SVARA PA
Howard Friedland, Cantor, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation IL
Talya Gillman, Board member, U of WA Hillel WA
Floyd Glen-Lambert, President, Jewish Labor Committee Western Region CA
Wendy Goldberg, Educator and Cantorial Soloist MN
Adam Graubart, Rabbinical Student, Hebrew Union College NY
Neil Hirsch, Rabbinical Student MA
Andrea Hodos, Director, Moving Torah CA

Rebecca Kanner, Board President, Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation MI
Carol Kantar, Holocaust Educator MN
Ned Kantar, Former President and Board Member, Kenesseth Israel MN
Jonathan Kaufman, J Street Bay Area Advocacy Co-chair CA
Jayce Koester, Rabbinical Student MA
Victor Kovner, Board Member, J Street NY
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University MA
Elaine Landes, Israel-Palestine Steering Committee for Congregation Dorshei Tzedek MA
Rhona Leibel, Former Board Member, Shir Tikvah Congregation MN
Craig Levine, Past President, Bnai Keshet; Co-Chair, J Street NJ
Jan Mahler, Cantor IL
David Mandel, Chapter leader, Jewish Voice for Peace CA
Eliana Mastrangelo, Rabbinical Student CA
Alice Mishkin, Interim Director, Jewish Communal Leadership Program, U of MI
Josh Nelson, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College TN
Julie Newman, Cantor PA
Steven Orkand, Hillel Board Member CA
Elisheva Pripas, Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College MA
Alicia Rabins, Educator OR
Edward Rapoport, Congregation Darchei Noam, Former Board Member JCRC MN
Penny Rosenwasser, Educator and Committee Leader CA
Aaron Rotenberg, Rabbinical Student, Spiritual Leader PA
Jessi Roemer, Cantor PA
Lia Lynn Rosen, Yotzeret-Artist/Educator NY
Lynna Schaefer, Spiritual Director NY
Yaakov Ginsberg-Schreck, Rabbinical Student MA
Frankie Sandmel, Rabbinical Student MA
Eva Seligmankennard, Ex Co SF Bay Area J Street; JCRC CA
Ori Shaham, Mazkir T’nuah, Hashomer Hatzair NY
Roni Shaham, Rosh Ken of Hashomer Hatzair NY
Linda Shivers, Retired Cantor, Cong. Neveh Shalom OR
Barbara Slader, Cantor OR
David Snyder, Board Member & Founder, Shir Tikvah Synagogue MN
Louisa Solomon, Rabbinical student, RRC PA
Dale Strok, Board Member, Temple Israel and NCJW CA
Robert Nathan, Suberi Center For Jewish NonViolence MO
Howard Sumka, J Street DC Metro Chapter Steering Committee MD
Ilana Sumka, Student Rabbi, NY
Mark Zivin, Board Member, Alliance for Middle East Peace IL
Nancy Becker OR
Sheerya Berg VT
Michaela Brown MA
Gloria Cowan CA
Jessica Curhan MI
Wendy Ferguson CA
Linda Fox CA
Bernard Friedman CA

Gili Getz NY
Shula Gilad MA
Tal Klausner NY
Jonathan Kopp NY
Jonathan Lopatin NY
Nora Paul IA
William Singer IL
Evan Traylor NY
Louise Wiener Wash. DC
Chloe Zelkha OH
Charlie Zimmerman CA