A Rabbi's Letter to the Next President

Dear Mr. Trump,

We met once at my synagogue and you greeted me most graciously. Though I did not vote for you, I have many friends who did: people I admire and whose wisdom I trust. I write you now hopeful of your support.

You are well-aware how the hard-fought presidential campaign laid bare a national divide on a wide range of policy concerns. Your victory helped bring to light the dissatisfaction of many Americans, particularly those outside the larger population centers, with the course the country has taken. The nation will be stronger for its focus on their economic needs.

But your campaign also energized a dangerous segment of our populace whose hateful rhetoric advanced from the margins to the mainstream. As a Jew, I respond viscerally to expressions of xenophobia and bigotry, for Jews know as well as any people the dangers of nativist ideologies. As a rabbi engaged in interfaith and inter-communal dialogue, I fear greatly for my partners and friends. Last week a Muslim colleague forwarded me a letter received by one of his worshipers. Beneath the heading "Trump: Make America Great Again," appeared the following:

Dear Terrorist-B----,

We are writing to you as the newly organized Neighborhood Town Watch. We understand that you currently wear a scarf on your head, and we would like to put you on notice that this will no longer be tolerated in our neighborhood.

Now that America is great again, we would like to offer you two opportunities to avoid any consequences of your poor previous decisions. First, you can take your radical attire of [sic] and live like all Americans. Or, your second option, you can go back to the God Forsaken land you came from.

America is Great Again,
Neighborhood Town Watch

Mr. Trump, I do not believe you share these sentiments. But as long as any of your supporters promote them, you must repudiate them. Nor will one blanket denunciation suffice. To reassure all Americans of their safety, you must condemn unequivocally every expression of hate.

At this season of the year when people of many faiths kindle lights against the darkness, we look to you in hope.

Sincerely,
Joshua M. Davidson
Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York