Our “Stronger Together” Wexner Summit working group identified the lack of institutional recognition and tolerance of non-orthodox Jewish ritual, practices and beliefs in Israel as one important factor wearing away the North American Jewish Community’s feeling of connection to Israel. Our concern was actually twofold — from the Israeli perspective, Israel was illustrating a true lack of religious freedom for non-orthodox Jews and creating a distancing of non-orthodox Israeli Jews from Jewish spirituality, ritual, knowledge and deeper Jewish identity. The further implication is that in younger and future generations, there would be an erosion of the historic, theological and moral foundations that form the right of a Jewish state to exist in the land of Israel.
From the perspective of the diaspora in general and for North American Jewry in particular, we saw a disconnect between Israel’s position as a “home for all Jews” and the practices of a large majority of North American Jews. We were concerned that the power defaulting to the Israeli Rabbinate created an alienating lack of religious tolerance for both a majority of Israeli Jews and North American Jews and, in turn, this lack of openness also created a devastating rift between diaspora and North American Jewry and Israel.
To address these issues, we decided to create a vehicle to promote and bolster a pluralistic Jewish society in Israel. We believe that the majority of Israel’s non-orthodox Jewish population is not familiar with or aware of the alternatives of Jewish spirituality currently available in Israel. Our solution is to create a useful, dynamic and accessible guide to a full scope of Jewish alternatives in Israel.
We are now actively engaged in phase one of this project — gathering information from every source we have to create our listing. We welcome and would very much appreciate any contribution to this list from any Wexner alumni, fellows and members. The data needs to include:
- Name of religious option
- Brief description of the program
- Contact information (website, email and name of whomever running this endeavor)
In phase two, we will turn this data into a Hebrew/English/and-maybe-other-languages website. Finally, our group will then turn its attention to making the information available to as many Israelis and visitors to Israel as possible.
We continue to remain extremely excited about all the possibilities inherent in our project. We not only welcome your assistance in the creation of this list, but also in sharing the information once it is collected
Our hope is that we will be able to make it possible for more Israelis to know that their homeland offers a growing number of many religious alternatives and that Judaism is accessible and possible for all Jews.
Amy Bressman, WHP Alum (NY/Sidley)
Susan Borison, WHP Alum (Cleveland 05)
Dalit Caspi-Schachner, WIF Alum (Class 23)
Harris Devor, WHP Alum (Philadelphia 1)
Serena Eisenberg, WGF Alum (Class 9)
Bill Lipsey, WHP Alum (MetroWest)
Jennie Litvack, WHP Alum (Washington DC 13)
Tsachi Mushkin, WIF Alum (Class 14)
Ruthie Saragosti, WIF Alum (Class 26)
Mitchell Shore, WHP Alum (Philadelphia 1)