Tag Archives: Israel

The Writing on the Wall

Disaster struck Saturday night at a school building in Jerusalem.  Four firefighter teams were called in to extinguish a blaze that destroyed a first-grade classroom.  The larger tragedy is that the fire seems to have been an act of premeditated arson, and the school targeted for being a model of Jewish-Arab community building.  The torched building housed a Hebrew-Arab bilingual school—The Hand in Hand Jerusalem School—where Jewish and Arab parents send their children to play and learn side-by-side.
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Israeli flag

The Reform Movement Condemns Brutal Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue

In response to the attack that happened at B’nei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) released the following statements:

Reform Movement Condemns Brutal Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue, from URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

“The Reform Movement is appalled at the horrific and gruesome attack of worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem early this morning. Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrendous attack and we insist the perpetrators be condemned and held responsible. Such violence on innocent people in their place of worship is an affront to all humanity. Israeli and Palestinian leaders must work together to de-escalate the growing violence in the region, particularly in the holy city of Jerusalem. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims taken from us this morning in Jerusalem. May the Holy One comfort these families among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” Read more…

Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Israel Update: New Terror Attacks, and a Legal Battle over Jerusalem

The past two weeks have been scary ones for Israelis and Jerusalem residents, as three separate attacks on light rail stations have left three people dead and injured a dozen more. On October 23, a Palestinian man drove his car through a light rail station near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old infant who was also an American citizen, as well as an Ecuadorean woman. And just this Wednesday, a van rammed into another light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a border patrol agent and wounding two others. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Later that night, another van rammed into a three IDF soldiers in the West Bank, sending them to the hospital.

The attacks come in the wake of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot there last week, prompting Israeli authorities to close Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, for a day. This in turn sparked riots near Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount (which exists essentially on the same site), and has created diplomatic tension between Israel and Jordan.

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ARZA, representing Reform Judaism

Thoughts on the World Zionist Congress Elections from ARZA

By Rabbi Bennett Miller

The next year marks an important time for Zionists around the world, as the first elections to the World Zionist Congress (WZC) in five years will be taking place. The WZC, which has met regularly since the First Zionist Congress in 1897, carries important historical weight and controls funding for projects in Israel, so at this critical juncture in Israeli politics, Reform Zionist voices need to be heard.  ARZA, which represents a strong Reform Jewish voice for Israel and Zionism, has created toolkit for the upcoming elections. Here is a piece from ARZA Chair, Rabbi Bennett Miller, on the importance of voting and how to encourage other to participate.

Earlier this month, Jews the world over poured into synagogues to “afflict our souls” on the holy day of Yom Kippur – to search within ourselves to atone, forgive and ultimately emerge renewed.

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An El Al 747 jet flies in the sky

Standing Up Against Discrimination, from 35,000 Feet Up in the Sky

Here at the Religious Action Center, we take pride in our founding to be a Jewish voice against discrimination and segregation in the early 1960s. Kivie Kaplan (President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1966-1975), for whom the street where is RAC is located is named, was driving in Miami in the 1950s and came across a sign that barred him from entering a hotel because he was Jewish. His driver, a black man, commented that the hotel’s segregation against blacks was implied. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, key legislation in the fight against segregation, was even drafted in the Religious Action Center’s conference room. Read more…

Netanyahu Obama

Contextualizing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at the UN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday, just days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the same assembly. In the speech, the Prime Minister stated his view that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas” and sought to link the two groups with Iran by saying that they all fall under the umbrella of militant Islam. Netanyahu also offered an impassioned defense of Israel’s tactics in Operation Protective Edge, the military campaign

While the speech was largely a restatement of what the Prime Minister has been saying this summer and before, it launched a conversation within the Jewish community and the Israeli community. Below you’ll find what some have said about the Netanyahu’s speech:

To stay up to date on everything related to the Prime Minister’s speech and Israel issues in general, check out the RAC’s Israel page and our partners in Israel, the Israeli Religious Action Center.

Women Praying with Torah at Western Wall

Hiddush’s Newest Report Shows Overwhelming Support for Freedom of Expression

Months after the Jewish Federations of North America launched a new initiative, iREP, to promote freedom of expression and marriage in Israel, a new report reveals that over two-thirds of Israeli Jews support Israel-diaspora partnerships like iREP that advocate for religious freedom of marriage, or civil marriage.

The report by Hiddush, an Israeli organization for religious freedom and equality, found that 67% of Israeli Jews, and 74% of non-ultra-Orthodox Jews support Israeli-diaspora efforts for freedom of marriage. These high levels of support mirror Israeli Jews’ overwhelming support of civil marriage, which has reached the highest level in the history of Hiddush’s Religion and State Index. The support is widespread, including a majority of Jews from all religious groups except Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox.

Other statistics from the Index include:

  • 84 percent of Israeli Jews support freedom of religion and conscience, up slightly from 83% in 2013.
  • Support for separation of religion and state has reached its highest recorded level at 61%, up slightly from 60% in 2013 and 56% in 2012.
  • A majority of Israeli Jews (51%) believe that every political party, secular, Israeli-Arab, and ultra-Orthodox, should be required to have female Members of Knesset.

Rabbi Uri Regev, President of Hiddush and founding Director of the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC), and Stanley Gold, Hiddush’s US Chairman, said about the report:

This study strongly reaffirms that supporting efforts for freedom of religion in Israel is one of the most pro-Israel activities that world Jewry can take part in. The time is now for all of us to help Israel fully embrace these values!”

You can access the full Religion and State Index on the Hiddush website or here.

Women of the Wall at Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5774

Victories at the Western Wall and Throughout Israeli Radiowaves

September has seen two heartening successes for advocates of religious liberty and civil rights in Israel! Within a week, Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court prevented a section of the Western Wall being transferred to a controversial group, and our partners at the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC) won their first class-action lawsuit.

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