Rabbi Zvi Romm, spiritual leader of New York’s Lower East Side’s largest Orthodox congregation, has sent a letter to David Garza, Executive Director of the Henry Street Settlement, which also runs the Abrons Art Center on Grand Street, warning against including anti-Israel Arab activist Linda Sarsour in a panel discussion.
Although stemming from two divergent branches of Jewish American history, the Orthodox Bialystoker and the liberal, even socialist, Abrons have been good neighbors for decades. Which is why Rabbi Romm, who splits his time between running the synagogue and teaching Talmud at YU, felt compelled to raise the Sarsour issue.
“Dear Mr. Garza,
“I hope you are well. I’m writing you with regard to the upcoming ‘Lilian Wald Symposium’ on ‘Immigrant New York: The New Majority,’ to be held at the Abrons Art Center on May 16th. The Henry Street Settlement is proudly promoting Linda Sarsour as a panelist at the symposium.
“We, the members of the Bialystoker Synagogue, are happy to be next-door neighbors of the Henry Street Settlement. But we are profoundly disturbed by the fact that our neighbors have given Ms. Sarsour this platform.
“Ms. Sarsour has been an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement, seeking to damage the State of Israel economically. She has declared that one cannot be a Zionist and a feminist, as Palestinian women are oppressed – ignoring the many, many abuses of women’s rights which are rampant in the Arab world surrounding Israel. She has tweeted that a young Palestinian boy going to throw stones at Israeli soldiers is the ‘definition of courage.’ She has stated that there is ‘nothing creepier than Zionism.’
“We, who love and support the State of Israel, are appalled by these positions and statements. By giving Linda Sarsour such a prominent platform, we feel that the Henry Street Settlement is indirectly expressing its tolerance of these anti-Israel positions.
“We feel that it is incredibly important that the Henry Street Settlement clearly and unambiguously state that it does not endorse Ms. Sarsour’s positions on Israel and Zionism. As Israel marks its sixty-ninth anniversary, we would greatly appreciate a statement from Henry Street Settlement celebrating the State of Israel, the only full democracy in the Middle East.
“Rabbi Zvi Romm”