A Message from Israeli “Wexnerim” to Our North American Family

As Tish’a B’Av went out and more than 70,000 people gathered in Rabin Square to protest the Nation-State Law passed last week, Nadav Tamir (WIF Alum, Class 15) and Orr Rachlevsky (spouse of Nira Lamay Rachlevsky, WIF Alum, Class 25) posted the message below in the WIF alumni WhatsApp group, which was then also shared in the Wexner Senior Leaders WhatsApp group. Many alumni and network members joined in and urged The Foundation to share their feelings with the North American Wexner Community, so we are sharing this with you. If you would like to respond, please post your comments below or email Nadav directly.

Dear Wexner Foundation Alumni and Friends,

We, the Israeli Fellowship alumni who experienced a meaningful connection with our Jewish North American brothers & sisters during the time we spent together have learned to appreciate the value of pluralism – both religious & human – that the American Jewish communities hold at their core. Today we cannot be silent. The vast majority of us believe that a connection between the Jewish Diaspora and Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people as defined in our Declaration of Independence, is the embodiment of our mission and thus of critical importance. Recent events have challenged and put a strain on our relationship. Our mutual values of pluralism and tolerance are threatened, to the point that we sense an obligation to explicitly declare solidarity with our fellows both in the Diaspora as well as here in Israel, with members of the liberal Jewish denominations and the Arab and the LGBT communities, whose equal rights are challenged.

We are deeply distressed by the extreme developments currently occurring in Israel, as well as the discord, the rifts created among our people and the sowing of hate. These practices threaten the very foundation, the image & identity of Israel, as a state promising equal rights to all her citizens, regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, language or religious denomination. Today during the observance of Tisha B’av, we all – religious, traditional & secular as one – are required to practice self-examination, carry out a soul search and speak in a clear voice.

We Israeli “Wexnerim” extend a hand to the Jewish communities of North America and the Diaspora at large – Conservatives, Orthodox, Reform and Secular. We are one family, bound together with historical & emotional bonds.

We will act together so that these bonds will remain strongly tied together and never loosen.

Please share this message with the North American alumni community and email me or comment below if you would like to be part of the (re)imagining and repairing of the relationship that started at the Wexner Summit two years ago and couldn’t be more urgent today.

Wexner Israel Fellowship alum Nadav Tamir (Class 15) is currently serving as Director for Government and International Affairs at Peres & Associates consulting firm and Peres Center for Peace and Innovation (on a leave of absence from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) He previously served as the policy adviser to the President of the State of Israel between July 2011 to August 2014 and as Consul General of Israel in New England 2006-2010. Previously, he was adviser to the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a political officer at Israel’s Embassy to the United States. Before his tour in Washington DC, he served as policy assistant to three Foreign Ministers. Nadav received his BA magna cum laude in political science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as a Wexner Israel Fellow.

Orr Rachlevsky is the spouse of WIF Alum Nira Rachel Lamay Rachlevsky (Class 25). He currently serves as Director in the Strategy Department at McCann Tel Aviv. He was previously Director of Projects and Strategy at Strauss Coffee and prior to that was a Senior Consultant, Team Leader and Case Manager at Shaldor, a top Israeli consulting firm. Orr lives in Tel Aviv with his wife Nira and their son.

Originally posted on The Wexner Foundation blog; reposted with permission.