Diaspora critics rallying to challenge Israel

By Simon Rocker, Nathan Guttman and Marcus Dysch, May 21, 2010

Signs of growing diaspora discontent with Israeli policy have emerged with the launch of a petition by American Jewish figures calling for a settlement freeze and a compromise over Jerusalem's sovereignty.

For the Sake of Zion was inspired by a European initiative, JCall, headed by French Peace Now earlier this month.


Advert targeting Jews 'marrying out' pulled

By Jessica Elgot, September 10, 2009

A controversial advertising campaign which portrayed young Jews who have married out as “missing persons” has been pulled by the Jewish Agency.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky pulled the television and newspaper adverts after a storm of criticism from bloggers, journalists and religious leaders.


Assimilation ad angers diaspora

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2009

A new campaign against assimilation in the diaspora, which is aimed at Israelis, is raising eyebrows in international Jewish organisations.

The television advert shows spoof “missing” posters, featuring young men and women with Jewish names. The implication is that the diaspora youngsters are being “lost” to Judaism.

The advert urges Israelis with a relative abroad who might be interested in Israel to contact MASA, an Israeli-based group that encourages Jewish students to study in Israel.


British JNF attacks Israel land scheme

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

JNF UK is challenging the planned transfer to the Israeli government of lands bought with money raised by diaspora Jews.

Samuel Hayek, chairman of the charity, described the arrangement, which is part of a land reform currently being hotly debated in the Knesset, as an “issue of concern”.

The controversy has arisen over the Israeli government’s wish to enable householders to own the freehold of their properties, rather than leasehold as at present.


Professor: diaspora in danger

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

Diaspora Jews are under increasing threat from assimilation due to a lack of “mission causes”, according to an international expert on Jewish history.

Brandeis University’s Professor Jonathan Sarna made the statement while delivering the first William Frankel memorial lecture last week, in memory of the former JC editor and chairman, who died last April.

Professor Sarna told the 100-strong Institute for Jewish Policy Research audience that the recession would reduce communal expenditure, “which would weaken links to Jewish identity for a generation of youngsters”.


Rebuild for diaspora museum

July 2, 2009

The Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv, Beth Hatefutsot, will be rebuilt and renamed the Museum of the Jewish People.

Instead of telling the story of the diaspora, beginning with the destruction of the temple and ending with the establishment of the Jewish state, the emphasis will be on the story of the Jewish people as a whole, beginning with Abraham and Sarah, and with no end.

The new exhibition will cost £15 million and will open to visitors in 2012.


Diaspora ‘crisis’ plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 27, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a radical rethink of policy in Israel-diaspora relations this week, warning that “a serious crisis” of assimilation and alienation faces world Jewry.

In the keynote speech to the Jewish Agency’s board of governors in Jerusalem, Mr Olmert acknowledged that “the era of mass aliyah from countries of distress has come to a close”.


Shuls need to discover democracy

By Simon Rocker, April 25, 2008

The level of debate in our organisations has dwindled to nothing

Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, recently suggested that Jews outside Israel should be entitled to vote in Israeli elections. At a stroke, diaspora Jews would be converted into honorary Israelis, and armchair Zionism would take on a whole new meaning.


Pesach in Israel shows just how divided we are

By Nathan Jeffay, April 18, 2008

If the seder meal is a time of unity, why will so many Jewish service staff in the Holy Land be working against their will?

It seems there could hardly be a greater example of Jewish unity and the power of Pesach to bring people together. Tomorrow night, thousands of Jews from across the diaspora will celebrate seder in Israeli hotels.

At first glance, the scene in the average hotel tells this happy story. But like a Magic Eye picture, on closer examination things look very different. In truth, the scene will epitomise just how polarised we have become as a religion.


A beautiful moment in Ladino’s twilight hour

By Ross Perlin, March 13, 2008

In the age of networks, the diaspora claims a few last-minute triumphs. Meeting Olga Borovaya was one of these.

Then a student at a large California university, I had worked all the standard part-time jobs: scrubbing cafeteria floors, researching trivia for a professor obsessed with arcane psychological disorders, contributing anonymously to a third-rate encyclopedia on the Balkans. I was ready to give up and accept penury, when a friend told me I should try being a reader.