Rabbis Condemn Insurrectionists at Capitol, Call for Elected Officials to Denounce Violence and Affirm Democracy

RELEASE DATE: January 6, 2021

NEW YORK — Today, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization that represents over 2,000 rabbis and cantors and their communities, issued the following statement condemning the violent threat to our democracy by insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, released the following statement: 

“We call on all elected officials to join us in condemning today’s rioting and violence at the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists seeking to overturn the results of a fair and democratic election. Today’s actions threaten the very pillars of our democracy, as well as the physical safety of those who work inside the Capitol, and of those who work and live in the surrounding area.

“President Trump and his enablers are reaping what they have sown. We have seen once again that violent speech, and tacit endorsement of such speech especially from the highest levels of power, leads tragically to violent action. The book of Proverbs teaches, “Death and life are in the hands of the tongue.” (18:21). As one rabbinic commentary explains, “If there is a glowing coal before you and you blow on it, it ignites; if you spit on it, it goes out.” (Vayikra Rabbah 33:1) President Trump and his enablers have been fanning the flames of Christian white nationalism, undermining democracy, calling to overturn the election, and dismantle our democratic institutions. Today’s violence is the natural result of their incitement.

“Reports out of the Capitol are coming quickly and it will take time to understand the full breadth of the damage done. We are distressed by reports of at least one death from the shooting inside of the Capitol, and pray for the family of the woman who was killed, and for the full recovery of any who have been injured. Already we have seen video and photos of militants raising a cross on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. Thisaction harkens to tried and true KKK tactics to  demonstrate white supremacy, antisemitism, and vigilantism, all in the service of creating a climate of  terror. In a speech before rioters stormed the Capitol, Representative Mary Miller (R. – Ill.) was recorded beginning a sentence, ‘Hitler was right about one thing.’ It should go without saying that Hitler is never a model to be emulated.

“We also note the contrast between the hands-off posture of the Capitol police  to today’s primarily white insurrectionists, and the violence used against those participating in this summer’s protests, led by People of Color, following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and the countless other Black people killed by police. In a gross dereliction of duty, the Capitol police simply stood by as white insurrectionists breached the security barrier, broke windows, and took over the Capitol, endangering everyone inside.                                                                     

“President Trump based his reelection campaign on declaring his commitment to law and order, and to condemning “rioting,” and yet he ignited the match that has led to this attempted coup of democracy, and never called on the National Guard and other law enforcement officers to intervene, leaving it, instead, to D.C. elected officials.”


T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of more than 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.