Following a skirmish at the Western Wall in which a multidenominational feminist prayer group was attacked by ultra Orthodox Jews and following the news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery and fraud charges, Temple Am Echad hosted a discussion about Israeli politics on March 13.
Rabbi Josh Weinberg, president of American Reform Zionists of America, spoke about the contentious relationship between the ultra Orthodox and the “formerly religious” Jews in Israel. He said that in April’s election, the ultra Orthodox Jewish Power Party could gain seats, and that the party cares more about preserving Israel as a Jewish state than as a democratic state.
“Having them be a part of the Knesset is too dangerous,” Weinberg said.
To prevent that from happening, his organization is trying to spread Reform Judaism to Israel, which could help change Israeli’s traditional views of Judaism. Additionally, ARZA is fighting the ultra Orthodox party in court, and are hoping to bar the Jewish Power Party from gaining seats in the next election.
Weinberg also said that American Jews could help in the cause by voting for the Reform slate at the World Zionist Congress next January. The results of those elections determine who will serve on the boards of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund, which has jurisdiction over land purchases.
“Let’s not let Israel go down this path,” he said.
The discussion was organized by Micky Friedman and Paul Kantrowitz, who serve as the co-chairs for Temple Am Echad’s adult education program. It was attended by Temple Am Echad congregants, the former rabbi of Temple B’nai Torah, in Wantagh, and Rabbi Elliot Skiddell of Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth in Rockville Centre.