Oneida Indian Nation Applauds Washington Rabbis for Joining Growing List of Religious Leaders Opposed to the Washington NFL Team’s Name

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Leading Washington-area rabbis took a stand this week against the name of D.C.’s NFL team.* The two faith leaders have joined a growing number of clergy across the country calling for the Washington football team to end its use of the R-word,** which is dictionary-defined slur.

Religious leaders from many faiths are recognizing that the Washington NFL team’s use of a derogatory slur is a moral and civil rights issue.

Two leading Washington-area rabbis have added their names to a growing list of clergy who are calling for D.C.’s NFL team to stop using the R-word in its team name.* In recent months, religious leaders from a number of different faith communities have united in their opposition to the name, which many Americans find offensive.**

“Religious leaders from many faiths are recognizing that the Washington NFL team’s use of a derogatory slur is a moral and civil rights issue,” said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “Our growing Change the Mascot campaign continues to call on the NFL and team owner Dan Snyder to end the use of this harmful racial epithet and to decide on which side of history they want to stand.”

In an exclusive op-ed published by CNN, the rabbis wrote that that they have a religious obligation to speak out in opposition to hurtful terms such as the R-word. Rabbi Aaron Frank is high school principal of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore and Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld is rabbi of Ohev Shalom, the National Synagogue in Washington.

Rabbis Frank and Herzfeld are urging other rabbis and clergy of all faiths to refrain from using or displaying the name or logo or purchasing any merchandise using the logo. They also are calling upon spiritual leaders to educate students as to why this is an issue of religious importance.

“The name represents a derogatory term and recalls a brutal history of genocide and torture - a past of racist dehumanization inflicted upon the American Indians of the United States,” wrote Frank and Herzfeld. “Until the team drops its logo and changes its name, we will watch with sadness as the potential for unity and harmony is blocked by a symbol of bigotry.” The full article from Rabbis Frank and Herzfeld can be found at:

During recent weeks, dozens of other D.C. clergy members have spoken out on the issue. Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, the Senior Minister of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, has encouraged other ministers to speak about the impacts of the R-word from the pulpit. Hagler is circulating a petition among Washington-area clergy that he intends to present to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington team owner Dan Snyder. ***

*Oneida call on Jewish leaders to join Redskins name boycott, 11/7/13,
**D.C. clergy join push to change Redskins name, 10/25/13,
***Nancy Pelosi, D.C.’s Black Clergy Speak Out Against Redskins Name, 10/28/13,

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Joel Barkin
Oneida Indian Nation
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