by Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

This week marks the one-year anniversary (yahrtzeit) of the kidnapping and gruesome murders of three young boys in Israel.

David-Seth: I attended the funeral for the boys, who were buried side by side on a small hill in the town of Moddi’in – center geographically to the homes of the three families.

In the sweltering heat, 12,000 people gathered to pay respects to boys that most had never met. Perhaps a handful of the 12,000 assembled knew the deceased’s name 18 days previous. We were religious and secular, Jews and Gentiles, politicians and taxi drivers, men and women gathered in a rare moment of unity and grief.

The Head of School for two of the boys eulogized his students. His remarks still inspire me: “Two Jews. Three opinions. One heart.” When the going gets tough, indeed we are one heart. One people.

Dan: A few weeks later, I, along with 19 other rabbis from across the various religious movements within American life, headed to Israel as part of a mission sponsored by AIPAC’s education arm AIEF. We landed the first day of the war and encountered numerous Red Alerts. Our third day saw us meeting in a government building in Jerusalem only to have Iron Dome intercept a missile directly over us. We were not Reform, or Conservative or Orthodox rabbis. We were friends and colleagues bound and united by our Zionism. All the normally divides us disappeared as we experienced life under fire together. We were American Rabbis… and Jews… getting a small taste of what our brothers and sisters in Israel live with day in and day out.

Sadly these kinds of Jewish unity are all too rare- or so the media would have us believe. They are, however, more common than you might think. An even more recent, and pressing, example drives this point home.

This week Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis in their shared determination to halt Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Close to 100 Jewish clergy leaders from America signed a letter (enclosed) encouraging NJ Congressional leadership to seek five critical ingredients to a deal with Iran. The letter, coauthored (cosponsored) by the two of us- one Conservative and one Reform- makes clear the fact that the alternative to a deal is not war but more negotiations. More importantly, the letter makes clear that a Good Deal, as promised by the Administration since the beginning of these negotiations, must include the following:

Inspectors must be permitted unimpeded access to suspect sites.
A good deal must support “anytime, anywhere” inspections – including all military facilities – to verify Iranian compliance. Iran’s decades-long history of cheating on international obligations suggests it will secretly attempt to continue its nuclear weapons program. Iran cannot be permitted any safe havens where it could pursue this ambition.

Iran must fully explain its prior weaponization efforts. A good deal must require Iran to come clean on all of its prior nuclear work, such as developing triggers for a nuclear weapon, as required by six United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The entire scope of Iran’s nuclear activities must be known to establish a baseline against which to measure future actions. Iran must also be made to comply with prior commitments; allowing Iran to shirk them will only tempt it to defy commitments made under a new deal.

Sanctions relief must commence only after Iran complies with its commitments.
A good deal must lift sanctions gradually as Iran meets its obligations under the agreement. Further, any deal should specify clear and immediate consequences for Iranian violations. The international community must retain significant leverage while Iran demonstrates compliance; it must not provide immediate sanctions relief or unfreeze a significant portion of Tehran’s assets so
Iran can “take the money and run.”


Iran’s nuclear weapons quest must be blocked for decades.
A good deal must prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state. The announced framework would lift nuclear restrictions in 10 to 15 years and grant Iran virtually instant breakout time after 12 or 13 years. A deal must restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities until it demonstrates conclusively, over time, that it no longer seeks a nuclear weapons capability.

Iran must dismantle its nuclear infrastructure so it has no path to a nuclear weapon.
A good deal must require Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and relinquish its uranium stockpile such that it has neither a uranium nor plutonium pathway to nuclear weapons.

These five key ingredients would not only hold Iran’s feet to the fire, but are key to a achieving the diplomatic solution we all hope to see. These five ingredients will prevent war and do much to keep the United States, Israel and our European allies safe.

After all, the terror Iran- the leading exporter of non-state radical activity- supports is contagious and it must be stopped in its tracks. Giving even an inch on any of these stipulations is like telling a pyromaniac he can only have half a book of matches.

We are taught that the Second Temple was destroyed because of the sin of sinat chinam- groundless hatred. During that time Jewish whose opinions differed with regard to ritual observance and the interpretation of religious text vilified one another. It has been said that a bayit divided cannot stand and, in the year 70, it did not. In 2015/5775 we are often more divided as a community than not. But that is not always the case. And when it comes to securing the safety of the world, when it comes to blocking Iranian nuclear aspirations and when it comes to standing strong for a safe and secure America and Israel we rabbis are able to speak with one voice. This week we did just that and we will continue to do so.

We are a people with many opinions and passions. However, when it comes to stopping the evil of Iran, regardless of background and denomination we are many people with one heart. Republican or Democrat, Labor or Likud, we are all united and in lock step in our indefatigable labors to stop a bad deal from happening and do our part to encourage our elected officials to be a part of a good deal.

Shabbat Shalom