ELCA Clergy throughout the region composed and signed a joint letter condemning antisemitism. We printed it in our bulletin on March 26, 2017. 

In 1994, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pledged “to oppose the deadly working of [antisemitism], both within our own circles and in the society around us” (Declaration of ELCA to Jewish Community).  Now that our Jewish neighbors have once again become the victims of antisemitic threats and vandalism, we are instructed by our Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, “to speak out, to reach out, to show up, and to root out this deadly bigotry” (Letter to Pastors, dated February 22, 2017). 

As Lutheran Christians, we confess our own history of antisemitism. We are implicated in the history of anti-Judaism spanning the history of the Christian faith, and in the memory and heritage of Martin Luther and his “anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings” (Declaration of ELCA to Jewish Community). It is in this spirit of truth telling that we acknowledge our truth while, at the same time, point to the wider truth of God’s love for all of God’s people. The violent invectives of our past should not be the reality of the present or our future. We are inspired by our Christian faith in a God who becomes incarnate and moves closer to us to save us, despite our flaws and sin, and thus free us to move closer to others in fellowship and solidarity. As Christians, we are called to be “ambassadors of hope in the face of despair” (letter dated February 22, 2017) as a faithful response to the love of God in Jesus and to our call to love all our neighbors. 

Therefore, we, the undersigned pastors of Lutheran churches of the ELCA, serving or supporting congregations in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Rockland counties, condemn antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. No Jewish person, institution, house of worship, or cemetery should be threatened with hate or violence. Bomb threats directed at over 100 Jewish Community Centers and Day Schools (including Tenafly and Paramus) and the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester are deplorable acts. The rise in the use of swastikas and other Nazi imagery is abhorrent. Our condemnation of this violence and all antisemitic speech, threats, and actions is unequivocal. We will continue to speak out and confront the evil of antisemitism in our communities. We will stand alongside our Jewish neighbors, institutions, and places of worship. We call upon our elected local, state, and national leaders to repudiate all expressions and acts of antisemitism.  We will continue “to work for the end of systemic racism and discrimination” so “all people in our communities, regardless of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity...may flourish” (A Pastoral Post Election Letter from Northern NJ Clergy, dated November 23, 2016).

Signed: 

The Rev. Wendy Abrahamson, Pompton Plains

The Rev. Hayley Bang, Paramus

The Rev. Arnd Braun-Storck, Elizabeth

The Rev. Carol Brighton, Ramsey 

Deacon Abby Ferjak, Ridgewood

The Rev. Julie Haspel, Oakland

The Rev. Peggy Hayes, Dumont

The Rev. John Holliday, Old Tappan

The Rev. Lisa Holliday, New Milford

The Rev. Michael Linderman, Ramsey

The Rev. Jenny McLellan, Allendale

The Rev. Jeff Miller, Clifton

Vicar Paul Miller, Ramsey

The Rev. Will Moser, Montclair

The Rev. Robert Mountenay, Wayne

The Rev. Peggy Niederer, Teaneck

The Rev. Scott Schantzenbach, Oxford

The Rev. Joseph Schattauer Paillé, Wyckoff

The Rev. Wes Smith, Saddle River

The Rev. Roger Spencer, North Haledon

The Rev. Beate Storck, Tenafly 

The Rev. Marc A. Stutzel, Woodcliff Lake

The Rev. Stephen Sweet, River Edge

The Rev. Ignaki Unzaga, Glen Rock

The Rev. J. Lena Warren, Pearl River, NY