Diaspora Wants Religious Pluralism in Israel: Report

Official Study Also Finds Fear Among Europe Jews

By JTA

Published June 26, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Diaspora Jews feel that Israel must reflect all Jewish values, The Jewish People Policy Institute told Israel’s Cabinet in its 10th annual Assessment of the Situation & Dynamics of the Jewish People.

The report was presented to the Cabinet Sunday by JPPI president Avinoam Bar-Yosef alongside co-chairs and former U.S. ambassadors Dennis Ross and Stuart Eizenstat. JPPI is an independent policy planning think tank.

The non-Orthodox majority in the Diaspora feels religiously disenfranchised by Israeli policy, is critical of the Orthodox Rabbinate’s monopoly on personal status issues such as conversion, marriage and divorce, and expects that Israel better respect and reflect religious pluralism, Eizenstat told the Cabinet.

The institute conducted some 40 seminars in the Diaspora on the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel in creating this year’s assessment. In addition to the seminars in dozens of communities in the United States and Canada, as well as Europe and Latin America, there were questionnaires and analysis of other research.

“Diaspora Jews do not see a contradiction between Israel as a Jewish state and Israel as a democratic state. They see the two as complementary. As Israel ponders changes to its Basic Laws, it should consider carefully the views of the Diaspora to assure it does not compromise standards of equality and tolerance, which our study found crucial for Diaspora Jews. World Jewry fully appreciates the difficulties Israel faces in a hostile region with major security threats, but a majority of Diaspora Jews does not see this as a justification for Israel lowering its own principles of democracy and adherence to human rights,” the report said.

Another finding of the institute is that European Jews feel under siege. The institute called on the cabinet to ease the process of aliyah from Diaspora communities, especially from France, including making it easier to transfer professions to Israel.

The institute also criticized the government for not providing a budget to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to work to counter delegitimization of Israel in the international community.

“As important as it is to be sure to draw all of the resources of the Israeli government together to tackle the challenge of de-legitimization, Israel’s policies must also take into account the effect they have on the international community and how some seek to exploit them,” Ross said.

JPPI President Avinoam Bar-Yosef said after the Cabinet meeting that, “A decision was made to continue dialogue between Diaspora communities and Israel, and Prime Minister Netanyahu endorsed JPPI’s initiative to explore, in the next year, the parameters, representatives, and subjects for discussion.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • 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.