Website policy

We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.


BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine

JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011




‘Pro-Israel’ but against all its policies

Violent scuffles break out again at the Western Wall, November 16, 2017.  The woman in the tallit prayer shawl is Rabbi Jen Lader. Photo and video below by the Israel Movement For Reform And Progressive Judaism

Reform Rabbis are finding it tougher to love Israel

Leading up to the movement’s biennial conference next week in Boston, Reform rabbis and leaders sounded upset but unsurprised by the clashes on Nov. 16 at the Western Wall

By Ben Sales, JTA, posted by JPost
November 29, 2017

When Israeli security guards roughed up the head rabbi of the Reform movement at the Western Wall, ripping his suit jacket and shoving a can of mace in his face, Rabbi Jen Lader had a dilemma: How could she talk about the violence without being boring?

Lader, a spiritual leader at Temple Israel in suburban Detroit, had already preached about the Israeli government’s apparent disdain for Reform Jews. She had spoken about how Reform Jews cannot marry or perform conversions as they choose in Israel. She had decried the government’s abandonment of the Western Wall deal — an agreement to provide space at the holy site for non-Orthodox prayer.

Wasn’t this latest incident at the Western Wall just more of the same?

“I gave this sermon a year ago, and two years ago, and three years ago,” said Lader, who runs youth programming at the 3,400-family Reform congregation, one of the country’s largest. “It’s not shocking anymore. It’s not surprising anymore. That fact is part of the reason it’s so difficult for me to talk about it all the time.”

Lader’s problems stretch across Reform Jewry, the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. The liberal movement self-defines as staunchly pro-Israel but has found itself at odds with many of its government’s policies, from West Bank settlement expansion to the preservation of Orthodox hegemony in the state.

That’s why, leading up to the movement’s biennial conference next week in Boston, Reform rabbis and leaders sounded upset but unsurprised by the clashes on November 16 at the Western Wall. For years they have found themselves distinguishing between loving Israel as a country while criticizing its government.

“I think there’s some difference between supporting the project and supporting the government,” said Peter Knobel, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Emet in suburban Chicago. “I will always stay involved in the Zionist project. I believe it’s important for the Jewish people. I’m not prepared to give up and to draw a red line and say ‘if Israel does X, I’m out of there.’”

Lader also feels invested in Israel education. She pointed out that her synagogue was founded specifically as a Zionist breakaway from a non-Zionist congregation. But connecting young Reform Jews to Israel isn’t easy, she said, when Israeli guards are manhandling Reform rabbis.

In the episode nearly two weeks ago, guards and Haredi Orthodox onlookers tussled with Jacobs and other Reform officials as they tried to enter the main entrance to the Western Wall plaza carrying Torah scrolls. The guards said it was illegal to bring the scrolls into the main plaza, where the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Haredi Orthodox organization that runs the site, forbids men and women from praying together. The foundation characterized the clashes as a provocation by the Reform delegation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to make a statement on the incident.

Recruitment for a biannual Detroit teen summer trip to Israel is also getting harder. Last year, Lader and her colleagues changed the itinerary to include a talk by Anat Hoffman, who chairs Women of the Wall, a feminist Western Wall prayer group that has pushed for reforms at the site.

“It’s really challenging working with millennials and young people who see these things in the news and then hear ‘this is your home, this is where you belong,’” she said. “They’re hearing two different messages from us at the same time.”

 Young Jews dislike Israel’s policy in the West Bank and its Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs

The same problem exists among young professionals, said Rabbi Jen Gubitz, who works with that cohort at Temple Israel in Boston.

Gubitz has not planned any programming around Israel yet because no one has asked for it, and because it’s become such a fraught topic. She said young people are upset both about Israeli policy in the West Bank — the Reform movement regularly urges curbs on settlement growth — and the country’s Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Reform movement [Movement for Progressive Judaism] in Israel, in an altercation with security guards at the Western Wall, November 16, 2017.  Photo from Israel Religious Action Centre

“The way that millennials approach Israel and approach talking about the land and the people and the occupation is a really big tapestry with lots of threads, and I haven’t yet moved forward with that avenue because I’m not totally sure how,” she said. “I always ask people ‘what do you want,’ and that’s not one of the things that comes up.”

The movement has grown more outspoken recently in its criticism of the Israeli government. After Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said last week that American Jews are growing distant from Israel because they don’t send their children to the military and lead “quite convenient lives,” Jacobs called for her dismissal — a perhaps unprecedented move.

“The Deputy Foreign Minister has a right to her ill-informed and insulting views,” Jacobs said in a statement. “But such views disqualify her [from] holding such an important role in Israel’s diplomatic corps. Her comments serve to underscore how the Israeli government disdains the majority of North American Jews.”

Hotovely later apologized for her comments, and Netanyahu condemned her remarks publicly.

Some Reform rabbis still feel an obligation to act as traditional Israel advocates despite these differences.

Jeffrey Salkin, senior rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida, disagrees with some of the Israeli government’s actions, but says blame lies on both sides. Liberal Jews in America, he said, have been distancing themselves from Israel for a while.

“My job is to make the best possible case for Israel that I can and to interpret Israel as broadly and generously as I can,” said Salkin, who is also a columnist for the Religion News Service. “The danger is that the encounter with this significant religious flaw in Israel’s system can and does serve to alienate Jews from Israel more than they already are.”


Click headline to read rest of this article

Print Friendly

Comments are closed.