Masorti gets conversation started on Israel’s 70th

Movement runs day of debate and lectures


Israeli Green movement leader and Knesset Member Yael Cohen-Paran was among the speakers at Masorti Judaism’s Israel@70 conference, held at New North London Synagogue in Finchley and attended by more than 100 people.

The day included sessions on the struggle for religious pluralism and on attitudes to Israel on campus and within the Labour Party. The best-attended was on the experiences of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, featuring Sana Knaneh of the Mitvim Institute in conversation with Masorti Judaism senior rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

During a panel on the obligations of Masorti Jews towards Israel, Rabbi Chaim Weiner, head of the European Masorti Bet Din, said: “Every day I thank God I live in a time when Jews live as a free nation in our homeland. At the same time, I’m suspicious about mixing religion and politics. We should be promoting engagement with Israel, encompassing the widest range of political views among our members.”

But Rabbi Joel Levy, head of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, argued that Masorti Jews “have to fight for the kind of pluralistic, democratic Israel that we believe in — and against the kind of Israel being advocated by the fundamentalists.” Rabbi Levy noted research showing that there are as many Israelis identifying as Masorti or Reform as modern Orthodox.

Asked whether Masorti Jews should form a political party, Ms Cohen-Paran said that “we should jump in, play the game and get our people into politics”. However, there were lessons to be learnt from the Israeli LGBT community, which had not formed its own party but had built significant support by organising within existing parties.

In a debate on how to combat anti-Israel sentiments on campus, Rachel Rose of Marom (Masorti Students) said it was important to equip Jewish students with the tools to “not only advocate for Israel but to feel comfortable criticising Israeli policy when they don’t agree with it”.


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive