The Challenge of Being Jewish in the Diaspora
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the URJ’s new president, spoke today at Israel’s fourth annual Presidential Conference on a panel titled “The Challenge of Being Jewish in the Diaspora.” Haaretz reports on the panel and on Rabbi Jacobs’ comments, in part:
You can make a strong case that it is easier to be a Jew in the Diaspora, than to be a non-Orthodox Jew in Israel. In 1964, Look Magazine ran a cover story titled “The Vanishing American Jew.” We are today going strong, and I defy you to find Look Magazine. The fastest growing group in American Jewish life is what is called the unaffiliated. I don’t like that term. Unaffiliated means it’s their fault. I prefer the term uninspired. That means it’s our fault. And that’s our challenge. To find ways to inspire them.
We must treat the stranger well, even if that stranger came from Africa. Our goal is not survival for survival’s sake, but a life of meaning and depth. Israel is a miracle. Israel needs us to stand up for it. Last month we won a great victory, I believe a victory for all the people, when the Israeli government agreed to pay Rabbi Miri Gold for her services to her community.
Read more of Rabbi Jacobs’ remarks at the roundtable, as well as those of fellow panelists, including Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents, and Rachel Korpus, president of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand.
Next week, Rabbi Jacobs will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. He’s asking for your input as he determines what questions to ask Israel’s top leaders.