Israeli Diaspora Minister Promises U.S. Reform, Conservative Leaders Cabinet-Level Dialog

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 03, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

After being rebuffed by Israel’s diplomatic representatives in Washington for weeks, Jewish activists working for religious pluralism in Israel might have finally found a listening ear.

Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s minister in charge of ties with the Diaspora, has promised to raise the issue in the Israeli cabinet and work for finding a solution.

Edelstein’s commitment, made at the end of a recent U.S. tour in which he met with Jewish communal and organizational leaders, comes as Jewish community leaders have grown increasingly angry over Israeli actions against activists of the Reform and Conservative movements on issues of women rights, equality and conversion. What sparked the harshest response in the American Jewish community was the arrest of a Jewish woman for wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall and the subsequent questioning of a Reform activist who advocates the right of women to pray at the Wall.

“It is important that my fellow ministers and lawmakers know there is a problem in the dialogue with American Jews and that we cannot ignore it,” Edelstein told reporters in Washington, “there is a sense of frustration from calls not being answered, from having no one to talk with.”

The move by Edelstein is aimed at creating a ministerial level dialogue group that will engage in discussion with leaders of the U.S. Jewish community regarding their concerns over religious issues in Israel. He stressed that such a group should include also ministers from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party that head the interior ministry and the ministry of religious affairs.

“It is very complicated, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to find an answer,” he said, adding that members of the American Jewish community should also remember that “there are people in Israel who have a different view” on these issues.

According to Edelstein, the frustration of the Jewish community over rights of Conservative and Reform Jews in Israel has created a potential disconnect between the community and Israel and could dampen relations in the long run. “People told me: ‘We support Israel and love Israel but you can’t expect us to stand up for you every time, when nobody is listening to our concerns,” the Israeli minister said, referring to meetings he held with Jewish leaders in New York, Washington and Philadelphia.






Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.