I am writing to invite you to join me in adding more Jewish voices to the call to end federal executions. I am a supporter of Death Penalty Action, and also a member of T’ruah, which you may know as a clergy-led voice in the Jewish community with a mission of protecting and advancing human rights in North America.
As you know, three federal prisoners were executed in July, with particularly troublesome legal concerns in how they played out. These were the first federal executions since 2003.
Two more executions are scheduled later this month, and two more toward the end of September, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The first of these four prisoners set to be killed is a Native American, a case in which family members of the victim and the Navajo Nation have opposed the death sentence from the time of the crime. Yes, it was a horrible crime. Even so, we stand fast against the state having the power to execute prisoners.
There is a sign-on letter for organizations, and a petition for individuals. As I write this there are three Jewish organizations signed on, amidst dozens of Christian, Catholic and secular organizations. These are T’ruah, Uri L’Tzedek, and Kehilla Community Synagogue. Our goal is to add hundreds more organizations of all faiths from all areas of the country in the next week.
I urge you do what it takes to to add your congregation and any other organizations you are a part of to the sign-on letter, and also to add yourself to the petition and encourage others you know to join you.
- Everything you need is at this link: http://deathpenaltyaction.org/federal-death-penalty/sign-on, Within the sign on letter and the petition are links to further background and exhaustive details on the issue and the cases, should you need that.
- Direct link to the Congressional Sign-on letter: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/federal-execution-sign-on-letter/
- Direct link to the petition for individuals: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-abolish-the-federal-death-penalty/
Finally, I want you to know that there is Jewish leadership here. The organization leading this struggle is called Death Penalty Action, and it is led by Abraham Jacob Bonowitz, who emanates from Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus Ohio and spent ten summers as a staff brat, a camper, and on staff at the Ramah camp in Wisconsin. Along with Abe, I urge you to make sure there is a strong Jewish voice among the many standing in opposition to the death penalty in the United States.
Cantor Michael Zoosman
Board Certified Chaplain, Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains
PS: One more thing. This effort runs on a shoestring budget. If you and/or your congregation are able, please join me in supporting the effort financially using the campaign sponsorship link, or this special landing page for Jewish supporters of Death Penalty Action. As for myself, I have been a monthly donor to the organization for some time now. Thank you.
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