The central institutions of Reform Judaism voiced concerns in a statement Monday regarding the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as Donald Trump’s Attorney General. Representing approximately 1.5 million Jews, the Reform Movement is America’s largest Jewish religious organization.
“On issues of vital importance to the Reform Movement, including voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT equality and immigration, Senator Sessions has a voting record and a history of statements that raise alarm,” Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Rabbi Jonah Pesner said. According to the Forward, Pesner’s statement was made on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the Reform Movement, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), its rabbinical body.
Sessions, whose confirmation hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, has been a controversial figure for decades, hounded in particular by accusations of racism against African-Africans. In 1986, Sessions nomination to a federal district judgeship was fiercely protested by the American Jewish Committee, according to Jerusalem Post. The article notes that in the 1980s, Sessions referred to a black prosecutor as “boy,” denounced the NAACP and ACLU as “un-American,” and criticized a white civil rights attorney as a “disgrace to his race.”
In a Jewish Journal article Monday, Rabbi John Rosove noted that Sessions track record includes voting to ban marriage equality, voting against extending hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender, and callling the Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation.”
In a post-election statement, the Reform movement said Trump “has the opportunity to use his office to bring Americans together, and to move us toward a brighter future. If he does so, we will be ready to work with him for the common good. If he does not, we also stand ready to be fierce advocates for the values that guide us: inclusivity, justice and compassion.”