Amb. Dermer encouraging new rabbinical group to improve US-Israel dialogue, report says

Ambassador Dermer would like to see a new rabbinical coalition form to carry on a dialogue between the U.S. and Israel, an Israeli newspaper reports.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer is encouraging a coalition of American rabbis representing the three major streams of Judaism in order to improve deteriorating relations between Israel and American Jews, particularly among the conservative and reform movements, Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon reported last week.

According to the report, a “semi-secret delegation of rabbis” from the three branches arrived in Israel nearly a year ago from the U.S.

It was characterized as a “bypass road” around established conservative and progressive organizations with whom relations have soured following actions by the Israeli government in 2017, including the suspension of a plan for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall and its advancement of a conversion law strengthening the hands of the Orthodox, the paper reports.

Another motivation for the initiative was the recognition that Progressive Judaism “was not as Zionist as it had been in the past,” the paper says, and was in fact promoting boycotts of Israel.

Although the delegation’s exposure led to an outcry from the older American organizations, it didn’t lead to the group’s cancellation, Makor Rishon reports. In fact, the delegation then met with Dermer in Washington and participated in the traditional Menorah lighting at the White House.

At the end of August, the rabbis will gather with Dermer for a founding meeting of a new coalition with the goal of conducting a dialogue with Israel in a more friendly way than in recent years, the paper says.

Makor Rishon says an email invited rabbis of all streams who were concerned with the growing split between the Diaspora and Israel and wanted to work to connect the two sides.

Behind the initiative is Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, President of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America and senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland, the paper says.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington refused to comment for the story, Makor Rishon reported.