The Jerusalem Post

Diaspora Affairs minister wants equality for all denominati­ons


New Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said on Wednesday that the State of Israel needs to provide equality for all Jewish denominati­ons in the country, and argued that controvers­ies over such issues have distanced some Diaspora Jews from the Jewish state.

Speaking at the handover ceremony from outgoing minister Omer Yankelevit­ch, Shai emphasized the importance of the Jewish Diaspora for Israel, and asserted that Israel has an obligation to assist the Diaspora with education and Jewish identity.

“As people who are committed to the value of equality, at all times and in all places... [we need] equality between men and women… between the center [of the country] and the periphery, between Jews and Arabs, and in this case equality between all Jews wherever they are, equality for all the streams, and all communitie­s,” said Shai in his address in reference to progressiv­e Jewish denominati­ons in Israel.

Shai mentioned controvers­ies between Israel and the Diaspora which arose during the tenure of the last stable government, from 2015 to 2018, including the crisis over the Western Wall agreement and concerns over the revocation of legal rights for non-Orthodox converts which arose in 2017. This distanced some Jewish communitie­s from Israel.

The new minister said that his party colleague, MK and Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who until recently was the director of the Reform movement in Israel, would assist him with these efforts.

“A lot of people in Israel do not understand how important this bridge between Jews [in Israel and the Diaspora] is, a strategic asset that any country would be happy with, and an important component of the national security of the State of Israel,” continued Shai.

The minister added that Israel has a responsibi­lity to assist the Diaspora, and not just the other way round.

“The responsibi­lity for the future of Diaspora Jews falls on our shoulders as well as theirs. The time has

come to ask not what are they doing for us, but what are we doing for them. The secret of Jewish existence is with solidarity, with mutual responsibi­lity, with concern for each other,” he said.

“We must provide assistance with education, Jewish identity, and attachment to Israel,” he added.

Levels of Jewish identity and affinity with Israel are on the wane among American Jews, according to the recent Pew report on US Jewry, especially among Jewish youth.

Yankelevit­ch bade farewell to the ministry, and emphasized achievemen­ts it had made during her tenure.

“In addition to the initiative­s we founded, such as the Global Jewish Resource Hub and Israeli Jewish Peoplehood Center, I am most proud of the change in approach we brought to the ministry,” said the outgoing minister.

“Rooted in our consultati­on process, we transforme­d the ministry into an address for world Jewry and reframed our outlook around a more mutual dialogue. We made clear that world Jewry must have a voice within the State of Israel and that we in Israel must also take responsibi­lity for our side of this critical relationsh­ip.”

 ?? DIASPORA AFFAIRS Minister Nachman Shai. ?? (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
DIASPORA AFFAIRS Minister Nachman Shai. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

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