Death penalty protest

Cantor Leads Jewish Movement to Abolish Death Penalty

As Texas inmate John Hummel was executed on Wednesday evening for killing his pregnant wife, 5-year-old daughter, and father-in-law in 2009, Cantor Michael Zoosman was reciting Kol Nidre to a crowd of protestors at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Zoosman, a former prison chaplain and founder of L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty, says he recited the sacred Yom Kippur prayer to “atone for the national sin of the death penalty.” His prayer was part of the 28th annual “Starvin’ for Justice,” a four-day liquid-only fast and vigil starting June 29, co-sponsored by several abolitionist organizations. “The death penalty says infinitely more about our society that allows it than the human beings condemned by it,” he says.  Staked out on lawn chairs in 95-degree heat, the group of about 30 sang, gave speeches and took turns ringing a...

Continue reading

Is Society the Angel of Death? Elie Wiesel's Take

by Daniel Kieval "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." (Leviticus 19:16) In an address given last week at Wesleyan University, Elie Wiesel called this verse the motto of his adult life. It would have been clear even had he not said so, for his remarks, entitled "Building an Ethical Society," never strayed from the verse's themes of justice and responsibility. In his speech, Dr. Wiesel—Nobel Peace Laureate, author, teacher, and Moment co-founder—referred to his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, but he spoke mostly about his work as a humanitarian, and, for the first time in a public address, about his thoughts on the death penalty. Despite his contemporary focus, Dr. Wiesel showed how heavily his past informs his values. Introducing the topic of capital punishment with his own story, Dr. Wiesel recalled...

Continue reading