Religious leaders urge Obama to push for peace in Mideast

The war in Gaza has prompted two groups of rabbis, religious and cultural leaders, including many from the Bay Area, to call for actions that they hope lead toward peace in the Middle East.

Roughly 80 Northern California rabbis, plus more than 950 rabbis, cantors and seminary students nationwide, signed Brit Tzedek V’Shalom’s letter asking President-elect Barack Obama to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by making it a top priority for his administration.

“While you come into office with a long list of problems before you, the long-simmering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is among the most urgent,” the petition states. “After eight years of half-hearted diplomacy, there is no time left to walk softly and hope for the best.”

In a paid advertisement featured in The New York Times Jan. 14, the Network of Spiritual Progressives — a group of liberal rabbis including Michael Lerner, who launched Berkeley-based Tikkun magazine — called for a cease-fire and an international conference “to provide international pressure to facilitate a lasting and just settlement for all parties.”

For more information about Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, visit

For more information about the Network of Spiritual Progressives, go to