Today is February 16, 2019 -
During a recent trip to Israel with other Jewish Federation executive directors, I had the privilege of hearing from Yossi Klein Halevi of the Shalom Hartman Institute. He shared with us his fear that American and Israeli Jewry are not speaking the same language and his prediction that the situation is getting worse.
We are now seeing the accuracy of Yossi’s prediction.
Last week, I filled you in on the Israeli government’s divisive decisions as they relate to Jewish pluralism and the outrage of the Reform and Conservative Jews who make up ~53% of American Jewry. In week two, while we have some developments, which I will address later, we also see some escalated outrage. This is the dominant Jewish issue for today’s American Jewry.
Anecdotally, I checked in with a couple of Israeli relatives about the situation. One lives in the north on a Yemenite moshav. She admitted to knowing nothing about the matter. Her news interest focuses on the dangers along the Syrian border and denominational politics in Jerusalem simply do not elevate to her priority list. The second sister lives in the very American city of Modi’in, not far from Jerusalem. Her response, “Oh, I heard something about this…non-Orthodox and the Kotel?”
So where does this leave us? How do we get on the same page with our Israeli brethren, when it looks like we are not even reading the same book? I proposed to my colleagues then, and I propose again now, that the solution is P2G (our partnership with the Eshkol region). P2G allows us to spend quality time with Israelis discussing (both sharing and listening) important issues. Hearing a lecture or sitting on a tour bus is informative and important, but sitting in someone’s living room while drinking coffee is when real dialogue happens.
Please note that I am in the very early stages of planning our next trip to Israel for late October 2018. If interested, mark your calendar.
Updates: The decision to require all conversions in Israel to be implemented under the supervision of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has been tabled for six months. The Kotel issue continues to be challenging. Reform, Conservative, JFNA, and Jewish Agency leadership continue to lobby Israeli parliament members. Even AIPAC leadership went over to Israel this week to make sure that the government properly understands how important Jewish American support is financially, as well as influentially of our American government in its support of Israel. I’ll continue to update you as the story develops.