New York, NY - Following reports of kidnapping, violence against women, and other crimes of war carried out by Hamas fighters during their unprecedented ambush of Israel, Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
“This weekend, as we celebrated Shabbat and Simchat Torah, we woke up to the horror of Hamas’ brutal assault on Israel's people. Hundreds of people have been murdered, injured, and kidnapped. Disturbingly, Hamas has threatened to execute hostages if Israel continues to defend itself with retaliations into Gaza.
“Once again, in a time of conflict, women, children, and the elderly are subject to violence and brutality. Several women were human targets at a dance festival; a young mother and her two daughters were captured in their home; an 85-year-old grandmother was abducted from a kibbutz and now serves as a hostage in Gaza. Led by our Jewish tradition, Women of Reform Judaism is dedicated to protecting the vulnerable.
“Endemic even in times of peace, the risk of sexual-based violence only increases during armed conflict. Sexual and gender-based violence must never be a tactic of war. United Arab List chair Mansour Abbas even called on Palestinian factions to release the imprisoned, citing that these actions go against Islamic values. A humanitarian response is the only answer.
“Women of Reform Judaism remains steadfast in our support of our partners in Israel. Pidyon shvuyim, the Jewish duty to release captives, is considered the “greatest mitzvah” by the prolific teacher Maimonides. Aligned with our longstanding record, we call on the international community to act swiftly to release hostages and get one step closer to peace. As the violence persists, we pray for the millions of Israelis and Palestinians who are now in harm’s way from Hamas’ continued attacks.”
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit our website at www.wrj.org.