Local Clergy Meet with James Harris

clergy meeting 1-9-20

Pictured from left to right:
Cantor Meredith Greenberg – Temple Ner Tamid
Rabbi Ariann Weitzman – Bnai Keshet
Rabbi Elliott Tepperman – Bnai Keshet
Rabbi Laurence Groffman – Temple Sholom of West Essex
Rabbi David Greenstein – Congregation Shomrei Emunah
Reverend Elizabeth Campbell – Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Cantor Kenneth Feibush – Temple Sholom of West Essex
Mr. James Harris – NJABE & NAACP
Rabbi Marc Katz – Temple Ner Tamid
Reverend Campbell Singleton – Union Baptist Church
Rabbi Yaacov Leaf – Chabad of Montclair)

Today, January 9th, 2020 local Jewish and Christian clergy met with James Harris to address his comments at the Montclair 4th Ward meeting December 3oth. The rabbis and cantors who attended the meeting have issued a statement:

To Whom It May Concern,

Today at the request of James Harris, a meeting was convened including him and the Jewish clergy serving the Montclair community. This meeting was called and attended so that we could address directly the antisemitic statements and sentiments expressed by Mr. Harris at the Fourth Ward meeting on December 30th. As representatives of Montclair’s Jewish community we feel an obligation to report on the outcome and content of this meeting.

First and foremost, we want to share that James Harris came to this meeting and expressed himself in a way that we perceived as a meaningful and honest effort to repair the damage he had done. He shared with us his ongoing effort to listen and learn from others to better understand the impact of his statements and broaden his understanding of antisemitism. He shared with us revisions to his public statement of apology, in which this process of learning was evident, in particular in its direct acknowledgement that his actions were antisemitic, rather than simply open to antisemitic interpretation.

As rabbis and cantors we were forthright in sharing the ways we believed he had not only missed the mark but engaged in actions that perpetuate antisemitism. He was open and vulnerable in his efforts to listen and respond to our concerns and comments. He said clearly that he has since December 30th been engaged in a deep process of learning and growth. Our meeting felt like a genuine expression of that process.

We left the meeting committed to working together and strengthening our relationship. We share a commitment for helping to build a Montclair that is a model of racial, religious and economic diversity. We respect and are moved by the dedication Mr. Harris has had in making these goals his life work.

In this moment when antisemitism is increasing along with many other ideologies of hate, we believe that our ongoing relationship with Mr. Harris is worth working on. We are hopeful that one outcome of this meeting will be opportunities not only to continue speaking and learning from each other, but also to work collaboratively to address the deep needs of our communities.


Rabbi David Greenstein
Rabbi Laurence Groffman
Rabbi Marc Katz
Rabbi Yaacov Leaf
Rabbi Elliott Tepperman
Cantor Kenneth Feibush
Cantor Meredith Greenberg
Rabbi Ariann Weitzman


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Shomrei Emunah

Shomrei Emunah

Congregation Shomrei Emunah - Embracing Tradition and Modernity.

Our synagogue is the spiritual home of a warm and inviting community of Jews in and around Montclair, New Jersey. We welcome individuals, couples and families of diverse backgrounds and orientations. We observe an egalitarian, vibrant Judaism, balancing openness and traditional practice.

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3 thoughts on “Local Clergy Meet with James Harris

  1. Wow! Who says people can’t change? I applaud both our rabbi and the rabbis of neighboring synagogues, as well as the Christian clergy, who responded to James Harris’s desire for further dialogue. Open doors can lead to open hearts…

  2. Thank you Rabbi Greenstein for being our leader and speaking up for what is just and right. You represent us in a way I don’t think anyone else possibly could – with insight, clarity, good conscience, intelligence and foresight to what is needed in this very difficult time. Thank you for being a model for us to emulate and for encouraging us to all be actively involved in what is happening in our smaller community and the larger world. We all need to have such discussions – they are hard and they are important.

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