Beth El Synagogue, Condi Rice, and Dialogue


Beth El Synagogue (St. Louis Park, Minnesota) and its invitation to Sec. Condoleezza Rice to appear in its National Speaker Series: the saga continues.

To recap: In defense of its invitation, synagogue leaders have stressed their desire for dialogue on difficult issues. Here’s the score on dialogue so far.

1. A synagogue member submitted to the synagogue’s monthly newsletter an open letter to the congregation expressing his dissent: not printed.

2. The member distributed his open letter around the synagogue: not permitted.

3. The member asked for ten minutes at the synagogue’s annual meeting: rejected.

4. A second speaker to share the stage was suggested to create genuine dialogue: no response.

5. “Heads-ups” to synagogue leaders were provided in advance of numerous online postings: not a single synagogue comment on those posts.

6. Questions at the event will be submitted on note cards and screened by a moderator: no comment necessary.

7. Finally, here’s an exchange of letters between our group, Tackling Torture at the Top, which will be peacefully demonstrating at the Nov. 8 event, and the president of the synagogue:

Sent: Fri 10/23/09 7:42 PM

Dear Rabbi Davis, Dr. Krupp, and Ms. Goldberg:

We humans are quite the species, aren’t we? We have this powerful facility for communication, and yet we engage in wars where we kill each other by the thousands, if not millions. We all remember opposing groups negotiating whether to negotiate, debating on the size and shape of the negotiating table, and worrying about who enters the doorway first.

In this spirit, we will take the first step. To date, we have exchanged e-mails, written newspaper opinion pieces and letters about one another, and perhaps inadvertently built up some walls. So what we all would like to do now-and everyone in our group feels the same-is sit down with you and discuss our differing viewpoints about your invitation to former Secretary Rice.

Among the things we feel we might discuss are whether the Sec. Rice invitation was indeed a good idea; what facts we and you feel are relevant in making that determination; what we intend to do at our demonstration on November 8th; and what you intend to permit and not permit with respect to the parameters of our demonstration.

We would be willing to have two or three of us meet with you at a time and place of your convenience to discuss these matters. We would also invite you to join us in various radio and television events we have already begun pursuing to discuss the difficult issues surrounding this event.

Please do not take this communication as any lessening of our resolve to demonstrate our opposition both to the illegal and immoral policies that Sec. Rice was instrumental in pursuing, and to Beth El Synagogue’s giving the Secretary a platform to justify those policies.

We look forward to your response to our invitation.


Chuck Turchick
On behalf of Tackling Torture at the Top

Reply to your invitation‏
From: Gary Krupp (
Sent: Fri 10/30/09 9:23 PM
Cc: Alexander Davis (; Linda Goldberg (

Dear Mr. Turchick:

Please inform your organization that we accept your invitation to meet with two or three representatives to exchange ideas and different viewpoints in the hopes of understanding one another better – after Dr. Rice’s visit to our community on November 8.

Let’s discuss details of the meeting – the date, place, etc. – the week of November 16 or sometime thereafter.

Most sincerely,

Gary Krupp
Beth El Synagogue

When it comes to “dialogue,” Beth El Synagogue and I have very different dictionaries.

One final note: Sec. Rice will speak in Beth El’s main sanctuary, under a huge arch spanning the entire pulpit area and emblazoned with the Hebrew words for “Truth, Justice, Peace.” Let us all pray the arch doesn’t crumble.

Tackling Torture at the Top, at a 5:15 p.m. Nov. 8 rally, will be peacefully demonstrating its opposition both to Sec. Rice’s role in implementing immoral and illegal policies, and to Beth El Synagogue’s role in providing her a platform to justify those policies. Come join us for some dialogue at 5224 W. 26th St., St. Louis Park. Endorsers include the Anti-War Committee, Vets for Peace, WAMM, and the National Lawyers Guild. For safety reasons, we do not intend to encircle the synagogue seven times.