Local Rabbis Urge Orange County to Choose Speakers Who Unite

Linda Sarsour will be the keynote speaker on March 31 in Hillsborough, NC at an event sponsored by Orange County’s Department of Human Rights & Relations and The Orange County Human Relations Commission (HRC) of NC “in honor of women’s history month.” 

Many community members have voiced concerns including Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee who said, “She [Sarsour] will be paid $5000 plus expenses. I only know that I had no part of any of this and am sure that many other well-qualified women could have been asked to speak…This type of conduct will continue until folks rise up and put a stop to it, either through public pressure or at the polls.”

Four prominent local rabbis wrote the public letter below.

Dear Members of the Orange County Human Relations Commission,

We appreciate the mission of the Orange County Human Relations Commission “to promote the equal treatment of all individuals; to protect residents’ lawful interests and their personal dignity; and to prevent public and domestic strife, crime, and unrest within Orange County,” and all the work the Commission has done in the past in service to the community.

We are concerned, however, about the upcoming Women’s History Month “Courageous Conversations” event featuring keynote speaker Linda Sarsour. The Commission has announced that this is an event “… about community unity and bringing people together…” Yet by inviting Ms. Sarsour, whose statements on Zionism and Israel alienate many in the Jewish community, the Human Relations Council is dividing rather than uniting us.

In the wake of the Christchurch and Pittsburgh attacks, and rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, it is essential for us to stand united in opposition to all forms of hatred and bigotry. We fully support the Commission’s desire to address women’s history, Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims; we urge that speakers be chosen who bring all of us together to strengthen our community.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jen Feldman, Kehillah Synagogue

Rabbi Daniel Greyber, Beth El Synagogue

Rabbi John Franken, Judea Reform Congregation

Rabbi Zalman Bluming, Chabad of Durham-Chapel Hill

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