As a North American Jew who feels deep love and responsibility for Israel and the Jewish people, I find this moment in time profoundly humbling and vexing. This week has highlighted both our struggles and our resiliency, both the depths of our dividedness and the power of our collective strength.
As we celebrate the miracle of Israel’s 75th year, we are also witnessing existential conflicts over many aspects of both the Jewish and democratic character of Israel. I believe in the resiliency of Israel and continue to hope that this moment could result in greater commitment from across the political spectrum to an aspirational vision for our Jewish democratic state. At the same time, I share the fears of many in Israel and here in North America that both the rhetoric and proposed policies of Israel’s governing coalition threaten some of the core tenets of Israel as a liberal democracy and a homeland for the entire Jewish people—including checks and balances on power, protection of minorities’ equality and dignity, and respect for all Jews and different expressions of Judaism.
In the face of great disunity, we need to stay engaged directly with Israel and Israelis and to continually educate ourselves, with openness and curiosity, about the complexity of this present moment. Those of us who can also need to directly express our concerns respectfully but strongly to the Israeli leaders and partners with whom we are already in close relationship.
In that spirit, after consultation with federations across the country—including CJP—Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) shared a letter with Israel’s elected officials this past Tuesday calling on the government to embrace the compromises that President Isaac Herzog has called for. I know there are those in our community who believe the letter steps over the line in its criticism of Israel’s democratically elected government. I also know that others in our community believe the letter does not go far enough in its criticism. That said, I believe the JFNA letter reflects the sentiments of a broad cross-section of our community and North American Jews, and I proudly support it.
CJP will continue to curate resources and educational opportunities to share with our community. You can find those here.
When we come together, work together, dream together—anything is possible.