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Reform Programs Aims To Spark ‘Dialogue Not Debate’ on Israel

Reform Rabbis in America scratching their heads over how to handle the Israel debates roiling their synagogues will soon get some guidance.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the largest American rabbinic organization, is creating a program to aimed to foster civil discourse in Reform congregations.

Steven Fox, the chief executive of CCAR, described the program, slated to begin August 2016, in an interview while he was in Israel for CCAR’s annual convention this week.

He said that the program, many months in the works, is aimed at “creating dialogue and not debate” in Reform synagogues. Fox named the breakdown in civil discourse over Israel a “grave concern” in his most recent annual report, he said.

Fox would not reveal any details about the program except to say that “phase one” will be “working with Rabbis to enhance skillsets of conversation.”

The program will be modeled on CCAR’s 2008 project to facilitate healthy dialogue between rabbis on the contentious issue of intermarriage. Over the past several years more and more Reform Rabbis have been performing marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

CCAR officially supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the CCAR convention, Reform rabbis met with settlers in Hebron as well as activists from Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli soldiers who testify about Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at [email protected] or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff

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