For Immediate Release: January 9, 2024
Press Contact: Sophie Ellman-Golan | sophie@jfrej.org

New York, NY (January 9, 2023) – While the UN General Assembly held a plenary session to discuss the United States’ recent veto of a ceasefire amendment, dozens of rabbis occupied the balcony inside the United Nations Security Council Chambers, and disrupted the General Assembly plenary session to demand that the U.S. stop preventing the UN from taking urgent action for an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza. At this moment of great moral reckoning, when the U.S. government refuses to listen to the people, American rabbis have come to the UN directly to make their voices heard.

Led by Rabbis 4 Ceasefire, and co-organized by Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), the 36 rabbis came from seven different states to sing, pray, recite excerpts of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and hold a Yizkor (memorial) service, while holding up banners that read “Biden: The World Says Ceasefire” and “Biden: Stop Vetoing Peace” and “Biden: Rabbis Demand Ceasefire Now.” The rabbis were escorted out by security, and held a press conference outside of the United Nations.

Rabbis 4 Ceasefire are making three demands of the United States and all members of the United Nations: (1) Reaffirm and recommit to the goals of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, taking meaningful action to stop the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza; (2) Hold another Security Council vote to pass a resolution for ceasefire that includes lifting the siege and hostage exchange; (3) Bring to the General Assembly a resolution calling for appropriate accountability measures in line with international law, including an immediate arms embargo.

“We have watched in horror as our government has single-handedly blocked efforts to stop Israel’s bombing and starvation of Gaza. We know there is no military solution to this violence. We’re praying here because the UN is where meaningful, diplomatic action to stop the violence can take place, and because prayer is how we as rabbis know how to express our fears, dreams, hopes and despair.”
- Rabbi Alissa Wise, founder of Rabbis 4 Ceasefire.

“The United Nations was created in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, with the very intention of ensuring ‘Never Again.’ I am here as a Jew, as an ordained rabbi, as the granddaughter of three Holocaust survivors, to urge the UN to follow through on this noble mission. Never again means never again for anyone”
- Rabbi Abby Stein, a member of Jews For Racial & Economic Justice

“At this very moment, the U.S. is defending the indefensible at a General Assembly: using its veto power to single-handedly block the UN from taking meaningful action for a ceasefire. I am here as a rabbi, because Jewish tradition demands that we do everything in our power to save lives, which means getting humanitarian assistance to Palestinians who are being displaced, are starving, and have nowhere safe to shelter as bombs rain down. Our government refuses to represent this overwhelmingly popular demand; we came here directly to represent ourselves and our Jewish values.”
- Rabbi Elliot Kukla

“Right now, the General Assembly is holding a plenary session to discuss the U.S. veto of a ceasefire. The Security Council's mission is to ensure international peace and security. Israel's actions and the U.S. veto are in direct conflict with this mission. Bombing more than 20,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, leaving millions without shelter and facing starvation and disease is no way to bring peace. It does not achieve security – not for Jews, not for anyone.”
- Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, a member of Rabbis for Human Rights

“We are calling for a ceasefire resolution that includes: lifting of Israel’s siege to ensure immediate and unimpeded access to sufficient food, water, medicine, and fuel for the 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip; and a full hostage exchange.”
- Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari

This action comes one month after Rabbis For Ceasefire, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, JVP-NY, and IfNotNow organized a 700-person #ChanukahForCeasefire event in Columbus Circle on the first night of Chanukah to raise their voices for a ceasefire, an end to Israel’s military assault on Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a just future for all Palestinians and Israelis.


Rabbis 4 Ceasefire is a collaboration of rabbis and rabbinical students, across denominations and political affiliations, speaking out with one voice at this moment of great moral reckoning to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) is a 6,000-member grassroots organization and the home of New York’s Jewish Left. For over 30 years, JFREJ members have organized alongside our neighbors to transform New York from a playground for the wealthy few into a real democracy, free from all forms of racist violence.