Oct 29, 2010

An Urgent & Time-Sensitive Message: "It's Time to Educate Federations About Religious Pluralism in Israel"

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the masorti (conservative) movement in israel - promoting religious pluralism and building community through inclusive, traditional, egalitarian Judaism
It's Time to Educate Federations About Religious Pluralism in Israel
Dear RA Colleague,
In early November, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America ("JFNA") is taking place in New Orleans. Regrettably, its diverse agenda does NOT place any priority on "religious pluralism in Israel." This is despite the sending of 60,000 emails to Prime Minister Netanyahu protesting the proposed Rotem Bill; the arrest of women holding Sifre Torah at the Kotel; and the outrageous statements by "Chief Rabbis" against non-Orthodox Jews, against non-Jews in general and against Arabs in particular.
Why is religious pluralism being omitted from discussion? We are told that JFNA is not persuaded that this issue is a priority either to major donors or to the grassroots of American Conservative Jews. In short, they do not think that our rabbis and lay leaders truly care.
Yet without keeping religious pluralism "front and center," there is diminished pressure to:
1. Continue to lobby against the Rotem Bill and its plan to augment the power of the Haredi Chief Rabbinate
2. Create a "level playing field" by having local Federations actively support both Masorti and Reform projects and programs in Israel [NOTE: at present more than $450 million annually in Israeli government funding is given to Orthodox rabbinic salaries, synagogues, religious youth movements, etc. in contrast to a total of less than $100,000 for Masorti and Reform counterparts combined.]
3. Build bridges between grassroots non-Orthodox American Jews and religious counterparts of all ages within the Jewish State - thereby strengthening the identification of the next generation of US Jews with Israel and Israelis!
We need your help to drive home the prioritizing of religious pluralism within the JFNA national and local agenda.
Please arrange a telephone or in-person conversation with each member of your community who will be attending the GA - to educate them to the urgency of this issue. Please also urge them to send an email to the lead executive of your Federation advocating the prioritizing of religious pluralism allocations and advocacy, with a cc: to the office of Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of JFNA. It would be helpful if you would also send a copy of any email or letter to the Masorti Foundation office (to the attention of David Lissy).
Beyond the General Assembly, it is important you let your Federation professional and lay leadership know that our commitment to religious pluralism and to Masorti in Israel is not an ephemeral matter. We do care deeply and in a sustained manner.
With gratitude and solidarity,
Alan Silverstein, Chair of the Masorti Foundation
Gordon Tucker, Past Chair of the Masorti Foundation
Stuart Altshuler                                       Aaron Brusso                                   
Menachem Creditor                                Elliot Dorff
Scott Glass                                              Joshua Gruenberg
Amy Wallk Katz                                      Paul Kerbel
Adam Kligfeld                                         Harold Kravitz
Shalom Lewis                                          Michael Pont
Joel Rembaum                                         Neil Sandler
Benjamin Shull                                        Michael Siegel
Seth Sternstein                                        Gerald Skolnik
Jeffrey Wohlberg                                    Robert Tobin

The signers are members of the Board of the Masorti Foundation and/or participants in one of the Masorti Foundation missions to Israel during 2010.
To learn more, please contact:
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
(212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414
http://www.masorti.org/; info@masorti.org

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
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