Ex-Amb. Oren: Recognize non-Orthodox US Jewish streams

Reeling from the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, Deputy Minister Michael Oren, former ambassador to Washington, calls on Orthodox parties to “unite the people.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel must do more than simply voice support for the Pittsburgh Jewish community that suffered a deadly attack by a white supremacist Saturday, Michael Oren, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Sunday.

Robert Bowers murdered 11 worshippers at the progressive Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood before being arrested.

“Liberal Jews were Jewish enough to be murdered but their stream is not Jewish enough to be recognized by the Jewish State,” Oren tweeted.

He was referring to the fact that the Orthodox stream in Judaism has set the official standard of religious practice and recognition in Israel since its establishment..

Oren turned specifically to Naftali Bennett, leader of the national-religious Bayit Yehudi party, who flew to Pennsylvania in his capacity as minister of Diaspora Affairs to offer help in the wake of the deadly attack.

“I call on Minister Bennett not to suffice with condolences but to recognize liberal Jewish streams and unite the people,” Oren said.

“The murder would weaken communities that are already fighting assimilation. Israel must strengthen the communities by tightening the connections with them,” he added.

This was not the first time the American-born Oren has spoken about the need to help the non-Orthodox stream, specifically by bonding them more to Israel.

In June, he presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a blueprint for a plan to pay thousands to make Aliyah, specifically as a way to prevent their assimilation.

“We must reach a situation where there are 10,000 non-Orthodox Jews who immigrate to Israel every year,” he told the Makor Rishon newspaper, explaining that this would be a good move for both sides.

“Those who immigrate to Israel, settle here, marry and raise a family are more likely to have Jewish children. This is also a worthwhile investment, since the immigrants and their children will contribute to the Israeli economy through taxes and service in the IDF,” he said.

Israeli politicians from across the spectrum have condemned the massacre with one voice since the news broke Saturday night. Netanyahu called for a moment of silence in the victims’ memory before beginning his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday morning.

In terms of material aid, Bennett has already sent a volunteer team of Israeli psychotrauma care specialists from United Hatzalah, in cooperation with the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, to aid victims and their families.

Just last week, the Jewish Federations of North America held its annual summit in Tel Aviv, where the theme of the event was unity between Israel and the Diaspora.