Statement of Support from Jewish Leaders

TO MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CHANCELLOR KLEIN: STATEMENT FROM JEWISH LEADERS
CONCERNING THE KHALIL GIBRAN INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY AND DEBBIE ALMONTASER

November 2007

We, the undersigned Rabbis, are active members of the Jewish community who have spent much of our lives seeking to promote just and productive relationships with members of other communities in New York City. It is because of those endeavors that we are particularly dismayed at the circumstances leading to the resignation of Debbie Almontaser as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. KGIA was Ms Almontaser’s vision and she was unarguably the right person to lead it. That she is not its principal today is solely the result of attacks upon her by marginal, right-wing groups, who charged her and KGIA with hostility to Israel and Jews.

We state emphatically that those groups do not represent the views of the mainstream Jewish community in New York City. Over her long and brave career, Debbie Almontaser has devoted enormous time and energy to building bridges and promoting understanding between the Arab and Jewish communities. The creation of KGIA was the culmination of those
career-long efforts. Her removal as principal of KGIA will only serve to inflame tensions between those communities and to reinforce the atmosphere of hostility to which the Arab community in New York has been subjected since 9/11.

We urge in the strongest terms possible that Ms. Almontaser be reinstated as principal of KGIA as soon as possible.

signatories:
Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun
Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Rabbi Michel Feinberg, Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition
Rabbi Steve Greenberg, CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning
and Leadership
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun
Rabbi Shira Milgrom, Congregation Kol Ami
Rabbi Felicia Sol, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun
Rabbi Mychal Springer, Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Burt Vizotsky, Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Encounter
Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services

*organizational affiliation listed for identification purposes only

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