Conversations about Israel often get polarized, so we’ve stopped having them. And that’s the worst kind of disengagement there is." President of the Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Rick JacobsPresident of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Rabbi Rick Jacobs says North American Jews believe Israel does not reflect their core values. “There’s got to be a sense that Israel gives non-Orthodox Jews the same kind of Jewish opportunities. Because of issues such as Anat Hoffman’s arrest at the Kotel ... North American Jews don’t see an Israel that reflects their core values,” Jacobs said in an interview with Haaretz. The Israeli police arrested activist Anat Hoffman for leading a women’s prayer service at the Western Wall in violation of Israeli laws governing the Israeli holy site, which bar women from praying while wearing a tallit prayer shawl or from reading aloud from the Torah.
The URJ President added that American Jews are applying stricter definitions to the meaning of “pro-Israel” and the US Jewry is “afraid” to conduct internal discussions regarding Israel.“Conversations about Israel often get polarized, so we’ve stopped having them. And that’s the worst kind of disengagement there is,” Jacobs said. Jacobs, who is the ‘scholar in residence’ at this year’s General Assembly in Baltimore, also noted that “the ever-diminishing circle of who is included in the word ‘we’ has gotten so small that it’s a shame. There is a wider community that cares a great deal about Israel, but they don’t care within the narrow parameters that the organized Jewish world has framed.” Jacobs is the first denominational leader and the first Reform Jew to ever serve as the Baltimore General Assembly’s “scholar in residence.” TE/AZ