New Report Highlights Key Drivers in Relationship between Washington, Diaspora Jewry, and Israel

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) has released its 11th Annual Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People. This year's Assessment is the first effort to measure the impact of government of Israel decisions on US-Israel relations. The report contains a study, prepared as a tool for Israeli decision makers, on key drivers in the triangular relationship between Washington, Diaspora Jewry, and Israel and how Israeli policies can affect relations between the three sides, in both positive and negative ways. JPPI conducted, for the second year, a structured dialogue process with more than 40 Jewish communities around the world. This year’s subject was Jewish Values and the Use of Force in Armed Conflict. These discussions, within the broader framework of JPPI’s Pluralism … [Read more...]

Jewish Values and Social Action, Coexisting in Israel

Photo courtesy BINA

By Sue Fishkoff More than a decade ago, when I began telling people I was writing a book about Chabad, I got very different reactions from my Israeli versus my American friends. The Americans were intrigued; the Israelis were appalled. One of my dearest Israeli friends, whose mother was British and who considered herself tolerant of diversity, wrinkled up her nose and said, “Why would you write about those fascists?” Pluralism is a concept dear to American hearts. It implies not just the coexistence of different viewpoints, but respect for those perspectives. For us, it’s a given that a modern, enlightened society contains competing political, social and religious ideas. American Jews often are shocked that pluralism does not enjoy the same high regard in Israel. Political pluralism, … [Read more...]

78 Bnei Menashe Arrive in Israel

Photo courtesy Shavei Israel.

78 Bnei Menashe olim from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, which borders Burma and Bangladesh, arrived in Israel yesterday through the support of Shavei Israel. They will be settled in Katzrin on the Golan Heights, which was the tribal patrimony of Manasseh in Biblical times. This is the first time that Shavei Israel is settling a group of Bnei Menashe on the Golan, some 2,700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the land. … [Read more...]

After Offensive Remark, Reform Jews Demand Ouster of Israel’s New Religious Affairs Minister

Beit Daniel, Tel Aviv's first Reform Synagogue Bar Mitzvah ceremony

By Judy Maltz Leaders of Reform Jewry in Israel are demanding the ouster of the country’s newly installed minister of religious affairs over his offensive remarks about their movement. David Azoulay, a member of the Orthodox Mizrahi Shas party, was quoted yesterday (Wednesday) in the Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom calling the Reform movement “a disaster for the nation of Israel.” “Millions of Reform Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora have had it with the ugly lashings out of ultra-Orthodox politicians,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Reform movement in Israel, responding to Azoulay’s remarks. “If Minister Azoulay cannot function as minister for all the citizens of Israel, then he should resign.” Reform Jewry representatives also dispatched an urgent … [Read more...]

Israeliness : The Zionist Idea Who’s Time has Come

President Reuven Rivlin addresses the Herzliya Conference, June 7, 2015; photo courtesy GPO/Mark Neiman.

By Robert Hyfler This month, at the prestigious Herzliya Conference, Reuven Rivlin, the President of Israel, gave a speech that should be read, studied and discussed (not simply summarized as I do here) in both Israel and the Diaspora. He observes that modern Israel is composed of four distinct communities, secular, Haredi, Arab and national religious - each of which occupy their own physical and psychological space. While a potential source of societal implosion, this reality also presents the opportunity for something positive and different - Israeliness. He posits four pillars of a renewed Israeli identity: “The first is a sense of security for each sector, that entry into this partnership does not require giving up basic elements of their identity... The second pillar is shared … [Read more...]

Pauper to Partner in America: New Expectations and Solutions for Israel-Based Nonprofits

By Avrum Lapin My colleagues and I work closely with many successful Israel-based organizations. We are framers and dedicated proponents of the emerging “Partnership Model” that is quickly changing attitudes and strategic thinking. It is driving emerging and even traditional Israel-based nonprofits positioning/re-positioning themselves for success in the American philanthropic marketplace. No longer is the operative relationship the “traditional” funder/worker model. Rather, it is now a bond with a commonality of purpose and combined leadership, where both sides are invested in the success of the other, and geography no longer defines one’s role. What is driving these changes? Why are they happening now? Allow me to put it into some perspective. First, Israel is a success story. Despite … [Read more...]

Hadassah Foundation Accepting Proposals from Israeli NGO’s

The Hadassah Foundation, an investor in social change to empower girls and women, is currently accepting applications from Israeli NGOs that are running social change, gender-sensitive projects that help low-income women of all backgrounds in Israel achieve economic independence. Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded. The Foundation is particularly interested in programs that provide cutting-edge approaches to solve problems that have not been addressed previously. Areas of interest include: Savings, Asset Development, and Pension Planning Grassroots Programs that provide resources and training Legal and Policy Advocacy Initiatives Business Development Services that help women who own businesses improve their outreach and marketing Leadership development initiatives that increase … [Read more...]

A Green Thumb, and Leg Up, for Israeli Children

Gail Asper (The Asper Foundation) with Students at Yitzhak Sade School in Dimona - June 4 2015.

Deep in the heart of the Negev, Dimona is a desert town not known for its greenery. And yet on June 4th, more than 200 Israeli children and teachers welcomed Gail Asper - the president of the Winnipeg-based Asper Foundation - to their Edible Gardens Initiative in Dimona to demonstrate how the desert can bloom. The Edible Gardens Initiative, based on the Edible Classroom model from California, offers at-risk children and youth an "outside of the classroom" space - a garden - where they acquire essential life skills, foster leadership potential, and gain new insight into academic subjects like science, history, literature, nutrition, and health. A part of the daily school curriculum, the garden is tended by students and, at the same time, professionals from Society for the Protection of Nature … [Read more...]