• Steven Windmueller

Statement Concerning Events in Washington

Words are simply not adequate to define the emotions following yesterday’s assault on American democracy.

We Jews have a profound stake in this nation. We were here from the very beginnings of this experiment in democracy. Washington’s extraordinary letter to the Jews of Newport Rhode Island of August 1790 affirms this unique connection:

Everyone shall sit safely under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid…

For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

Over the course of our nation’s history, we have helped to frame a political contract that defines our relationship to the American story, as we have celebrated its liberties and experienced its freedoms, while being present to serve and defend our fellow citizens. We had come to understand this as a political experiment, representing something so different from any previous experience in the history of governance.

Yesterday’s events represented an assault on that sacred space that we along with our fellow citizens had helped to create and protect. Now, we, the inheritors of this American legacy, must be present to reclaim this democracy bestowed to us and the generations that will follow.

These civic principles serve to inspire and help define for us our collective vision for this nation:

  • We affirm the dignity of the individual.

  • We acknowledge American diversity.

  • We defend and protect civil liberties for all.

  • We repudiate racism, sexism and anti–Semitism.

  • We embrace the idea of “truth.”

  • We identify “communalism” as a strong asset of democracy.

  • We affirm the importance of transparency in government.

  • We are committed to hearing and to understanding those who differ with our vision of America.

  • We celebrate the principle of compromise.

  • We are invested in the public square and civic engagement.