In the email, Obama is depicted as a Muslim pretending to be a Christian and seeking to take over the White House and handing it over to the control of al-Qaeda.
In an open letter to the Jewish community, the leaders said that they would not endorse or oppose any candidate for president, but felt compelled to speak out against "certain rhetoric and tactics in the current campaign that we find particularly abhorrent".
"Of particular concern, over the past several weeks, many in our community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama's religious beliefs and who he is as a person."
'Make A decision based on factual records'
The letter was signed by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League; William Daroff, vice president of the United Jewish Communities; David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee; Nathan J. Diament, director of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Richard S. Gordon, president of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Phyllis Snyder, president of the National Council of Jewish Women; and Hadar Susskind, Washington director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
There is great importance to the fact that Jewish leaders from all sides of the political map joined forces in this letter.
"These tactics attempt to drive a wedge between our community and a presidential candidate based on despicable and false attacks and innuendo based on religion," the letter said. "We reject these efforts to manipulate members of our community into supporting or opposing candidates."
The Jewish leaders warned that "attempts of this sort to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of our political discourse and should be rebuffed by all who believe in our democracy.
"Jewish voters, like all voters, should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president. We urge everyone to make that decision based on the factual records of these candidates, and nothing less."