|Roseanne Barr interviewed by Dr. Lenny Kristal|
Rabbi Bloom touched upon the controversy surrounding his guest speaker by reading an email he had received, signed by a handful of people.
"You will see the attached that over 70 individuals signed a petition urging you to reconsider your ill-advised decision to host Roseanne Barr on February 27th.
It is clear now that no reconsideration will happen, and the event will go on as planned.
You have the freedom to stand by a person that has a history of “voicing any thought that comes to mind”. No matter how hateful. No matter the hurt in causes the human community. We do not find this anything to celebrate. Like the many places of worship that have in the past (and the present) used their freedom to host those that denigrated Black people, Jewish people, immigrants, Muslims, you have chosen to sully your reputation and debase your sanctuary with hate and extremism. You have chosen narrow devotion to a nation-state rather than choosing justice, mercy and compassion. It is not the first time such a thing has happened.
We will continue to speak of the traditional values of love, compassion, universalism of human rights, justice. We will not be deterred by the rants of a few that seek mass destruction. We hope at some time you can join us."
The gathered crowd collapsed into laughter.
The local "outrage as a lifestyle choice" folk (thank you, Howard Jacobson, for that) immediately began spreading lies about Barr's talk.
Rabbi Lynn Gottleib of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council jumped at the opportunity to bear false witness, accusing Roseanne of spreading anti-Muslim vitriol, "at a synagogue, no less"
|JVP Rabbi Lynn Gottleib bears false witness|
The reality was very different. Roseanne discussed growing up Jewish in Salt Lake city. She discussed her socialist orientation, and she discussed her fascination with the story of Purim, and with Queen Esther, another Jewish woman who would not be silenced. Roseanne Barr used the talk at Congregation Beth Abraham to express her desire for peaceful co-existence in the region, stating,
"If I could get one Palestinian grandmother to join me, me and her – I would be the representative of the Jewish people and she would be of the Palestinians – we would sit down and hammer out a peace agreement and hand it to the people in power. I don't see why that can't happen. Last time I was in Israel, I sought out Palestinian women and had wonderful conversations with them, and I will probably seek them out again."