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In Passionate Letter to Congress, Hundreds of Rabbis Endorse Iran Deal

Urging lawmakers to pass nuclear agreement, rabbis also fight perception of American Jewish opposition to the deal

U.S. Congress is expected to vote on the Iran deal in September. (Photo: Elliott P./flickr/cc)

More than 300 rabbis "from all streams of Judaism" on Monday sent a letter to all lawmakers in U.S. Congress urging them to approve the historic nuclear deal with Iran, calling it "the best arrangement possible given current international realities."

"As rabbis, we support the agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran– The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We encourage the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to endorse this agreement," the letter states.

"If Congress ultimately rejects the deal, the consequences for the United States, Israel, the Jewish community and the world will be significant," said Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Wilmette, Illinois in a statement accompanying the letter.

Signed by 340 rabbis from around the country and published by Ameinu, which describes itself as a broad community of progressive American Jews seeking social and economic justice in Israel and the United States, the missive also sought to highlight recent poll numbers indicating widespread public support for the deal by American Jews.

Those behind the letter made it clear they are pushing back against the idea—fomented by many right-wing politicians, Republican presidential candidates, and lobbying groups like AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League—that all American Jews are opposed to the agreement.

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"[W]e are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord," the letter states.

"A wide array of views about the nuclear deal exist among American Jews, as demonstrated in the recent Jewish Journal poll that showed 49% approving of the agreement (31% opposed) and 53% wanting Congress to approve it (35% opposed)," said Rabbi Rachel Mikva of Chicago. "However many Jewish Federations, AIPAC and other leading national Jewish organizations are campaigning in opposition, which is being interpreted to mean that American Jews want to see the deal scrapped."

"This is a false and dangerous message that we as rabbis hope to counter with our letter to Congress," Mikva said.

Congress is expected to vote on the deal in mid-September after lawmakers return to session.

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