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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

JCRC Action Alert: Speak out against Antisemitism

An Action Alert: Please contact the Iowa-MFSA by email and express your opinion on this matter.


The organized Jewish community of Iowa has its letter in today’s Des Moines Register bringing to light the issue involving a sub-group within The United Methodist Church.


The letter was signed by virtually all our top echelon of Jewish leaders in Iowa: our pulpit rabbis, our congregation presidents, our Federation officials, and additional leaders: from Hillel and UNI’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education. [ See list of signatories at bottom.] 


The essence of what is commonly agreed on may best be expressed informally as follows:   Divergent opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one thing.  The use of antisemitism, however, is not a legitimate means of criticism.  Its use is unacceptable and dangerous.


***Action Alert:   Please express your opinion on this matter directly to the Iowa Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action’s  Coordinator, Eloise Cranke, at with a cc: to  And encourage friends and colleagues to do the same!  

                     ---Thank you for your support ----

// For the Jewish Federation, Mark Finkelstein


 Methodist group must repudiate anti-Semitism



In a response seemingly supportive of anti-Semitism, the leadership of the Iowa Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (I-MFSA) has chosen not to distance the group from anti-Semitic remarks made by their keynote speaker before her participation in its June 6program.

Janet Lahr Lewis, a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, was keynote speaker for the I-MFSA program held in conjunction with the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Des Moines.

In a message posted to the official Global Ministries website on May 20, Janet Lahr Lewis called for boycotting Holocaust museums in anger over Israel. But targeting Jews everywhere for what Israel allegedly does is anti-Semitism.

She alleged that Israel was committing an ongoing holocaust of the Palestinian people. The analogy is false and defamatory. The charge implicitly likens Israelis to Nazis. Demonization of Israel is not criticism of Israel’s policies. It is anti-Semitism.

Lewis further implied that Jews were blocking the commemoration of genocides other than that of the Holocaust. This is not true.

Iowa-MFSA was alerted in advance about Lewis’ remarks as was Iowa Methodist Bishop Julius C. Trimble. Bishop Trimble, in a letter now online at the anti-Semitism. By contrast, in a letter dated June 3, I-MFSA irresponsibly evaded the issue.

This is not about I-MFSA’s point of view on the Middle East conflict. It is solely about anti-Semitism, which cannot legitimately be used to further a political agenda. I-MFSA must repudiate the anti-Semitism of the keynote speaker. Until they do, the moral character of their organization will remain blemished, their silence passively abetting the promotion of anti-Semitism.

It is often said that “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.” We call upon the I-MFSA and its supporters to now do the right thing.

— Mark Finkelstein, Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, and signed by all local congregational rabbis and presidents


[Affiliations noted for identification purposes only.  No endorsement by one’s organization is implied.]


  1. Mark Finkelstein – JCRC director, co-chair of Iowa Council for Holocaust Education
  2. Prof. Stephen Gaies, Director of the University of Northern Iowa Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education; co-chair of Iowa Council for Holocaust Education


Pulpit Rabbis

  1. Rabbi David Kaufman, Temple B’nai Jeshurun
  2. Rabbi Leib Bolel   Beth El Jacob Synagogue
  3. Rabbi  Steven Edelman-Blank   Tifereth Israel Synagogue
  4. Rabbi Yossi Jacobson   Lubavitch of Iowa, Des Moines
  5. Rabbi Henry Jay Karp   Temple Emanuel, Davenport
  6. Rabbi Jeff Portman  Agudas Achim, Iowa City
  7. Rabbi Guy Greene, Sioux City
  8. Rabbi Rob Cabelli, Grinnell College
  9. Rabbi Stanley Rosenbaum, Emeritus, Sons of Jacob Synagogue, Waterloo
  10. Rabbi Todd Thalblum, Temple Judah, Cedar Rapids


Congregational Presidents

  1. Sidney Jacobson  Beth El Jacob Synagogue
  2. Judy Shkolnick  Temple B’nai Jeshurun
  3. Dr. Phil Bear – co President, Tifereth Israel Synagogue
  4. Dr. Harvey Giller – co President Tifereth Israel Synagogue
  5. Ron Jackson, Ph.D., Ames Jewish Congregation


  1. William ‘Jake’ Jacobs Temple B’nai Jeshurun Community Relations Chair


  1. Allan Ross, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities


Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines

  1. Jule Goldstein, President
  2. David Adelman, incoming President
  3. Stuart Oxer, Executive Director
  4. Jarad Bernstein, Chair of JCRC [ Jewish Community Relations Commission of the Jewish Federation]
  5. Gil Coosner, incoming Chair of JCRC


  1. Dr. Jon Fleming, President, Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center


  1. Jerry Sorokin, Ph.D., Executive Director, Hillel at the University of Iowa


  1. Barb Hirsch-Giller immediate past president, Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
  2. Harlan ( Bud) Hockenberg  past president, Jewish Federation
  3. Debbie Gitchell past president , Jewish Federation
  4. Sharon Goldford immediate past president, Temple B’nai Jeshurun
  5. Alan Garfield, Temple Beth El, Dubuque
  6. Barbara and Steve Feller,  past co-presidents, Temple Judah, Cedar Rapids