In an unprecedented announcement, the likes of which has not been released by a major Jewish organization in the US since the 1967 war (the one that changed everything), the Jewish Agency Board of Governors unanimously denounced the Netanyahu government decisions on the Western Wall and on Jewish Conversion, and called on government to reverse course on both counts.
The Board released a resolution full of “whereas” paragraphs:
“Whereas the Jewish Agency for Israel, representing world Jewry through its constituent members, the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod, is gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the liberation of the Western Wall and the founding of the Zionist movement in Basel 120 years ago; and
“Whereas the Jewish Agency for Israel throughout its history has been the organization responsible for bringing olim to the State of Israel and connecting Israel and world Jewry; and
“Whereas the proposed conversion bill that would cement the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on conversion has the devastating potential to permanently exclude hundreds of thousands of Israelis from being a part of the Jewish people; and
“Whereas we deplore yesterday’s decision by Government of Israel which contradicts the agreement reached with the Jewish Agency and other parties to establish the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, as stated: ‘ONE WALL FOR ONE PEOPLE’; and
“Whereas the Government of Israel’s decisions have a deep potential to divide the Jewish people and to undermine the Zionist vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky to establish Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people; and
“Whereas we declare that we cannot and must not allow this to happen and we are committed to mobilizing our constituencies for their continued support of the people and state of Israel…”
OK, we must interrupt at this point and ask, “the Government of Israel’s decisions have a deep potential to divide the Jewish people and to undermine the Zionist vision”?
Are you kidding me?
Other than yourselves and a few of your friends back home do you seriously believe there are a couple thousand non-Orthodox Jews in America who give a hoot about mixed prayers in front of some ancient wall over in the Middle East?
Undermine the Zionist vision?
The Zionist vision is to pack your suitcases and come to Zion, to stay, not to bake by the poolside at the King David hotel on your annual visits.
How can an American Jew preach to an Israeli Prime Minister about undermining the Zionist vision? What do you figure the Zionist vision is, “Exodus” by Leon Uris?
Where did you get this much chutzpah?
What do you mean by, “establish Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people”? Make sure it’s out there, just in case things get out of hand in alt-right America? How much entitlement can one group of American Jews carry on an El Al flight anyway?
And the line about “the proposed conversion bill that would cement the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on conversion has the devastating potential to permanently exclude hundreds of thousands of Israelis from being a part of the Jewish people” – where did that come from?
Many of us in Israel would like to see conversions be carried out by local Orthodox courts, but we certainly agree that no Reform or Conservative clergy should be allowed to convert in the Jewish State.
How many more non-Jews do you want us to integrate into the Jewish body politic? Your own staggering intermarriage rates are not enough? That’s your Zionist vision? Export your assimilation to Israel?
What a stunning display of arrogance.
Now, take a deep breath, here it comes, this, ladies and gentlemen, is how rich American Jews throw a tantrum:
“Therefore, be it resolved that
“We call upon each Member of the Knesset and all elected public officials to take all necessary action to ensure that these dangerous and damaging steps are halted; and
“We will continue to build a broad coalition of Israelis, together with partners from around the world, who care passionately about keeping our people united and who are committed to the unity of the Jewish people; and
“We call upon the Government of Israel to understand the gravity of its steps and reverse its course of action accordingly.”
We know Prime Minister Netanyahu will find a way to bridge this gap and make nice with the powerful non-Orthodox board of governors, because we all want the Jewish Agency to keep doing what it’s doing, namely to create opportunities for US Jews to come home.
That’s what they should be doing, not lecturing a Prime Minister who is fighting for his political life to commit suicide—which he would have to do—so that they could pray in a mixed group at the Kotel on those visits to the old country.
The Russian orientalist Daniel Abramovich Chwolson (1819-1911) was a convert to Christianity, who prided himself on his work against anti-Semitism in an era rife with blood libels. At one point he even wrote the Jewish community in St. Petersburg a note recalling his defense of the Jews and asking for some remuneration.
One great rabbi sent him a response saying: “lekach notzarta” (you were created for this purpose), which is a Talmudic reference to Bava Matzia 85a: a calf was being led to slaughter, so it went and hung its head on the corner of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s garment and was weeping. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to it: Go, as you were created for this purpose.
Why do you think you became the board of governors of the Jewish Agency? To make the Jewish State in your image?
No, people, your job is to either to lead by example and settle in Israel, or to help other Jews live in Israel. It is not to preach to Israel.