We wanted to share the following correspondence with you as a demonstration of love and partnership in these challenging times.
ARZA values, above all else, a strong relationship between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. This correspondence from the leaders of our partner Movement in Israel and our Board Chair, Rabbi John Rosove, shows just how deeply our fates run together and how rich our connection is.
We hope by reading this, you can see how intrinsically connected we are and how important it is that we stand together, unified against adversity.
The Message from our Movement partners in Israel
For many years, you have stood by our side. In the struggle to have the State of Israel recognize our Reform rabbis, in the struggle over equal recognition of non-Orthodox conversation, in the struggle to establish an egalitarian platform at the Kotel, in the struggle for freedom of religion and conscience, in the struggle for the basic idea that there is more than one way to be Jewish. In recent years, you have been standing by our side also in the effort to ensure Israel’s democratic character and the values inscribed in Israel's Declaration of Independence.
No less, and perhaps even more important, you have been with us in moments of crisis and national distress. During the Second Lebanon War, during the operations in Gaza, during the fire in the Carmel and in numerous other moments of mutual responsibility and solidarity. More than once did you ask us about Israeli politics and about worrisome deeper trends that are shaping our political discourse. This did not prevent you from continuing to educate children, youth and congregational members towards the love of Israel and a deep commitment to the relationship between the diaspora and the State of Israel. This did not prevent you from coming in the thousands to visit Israel every year, to place the Israeli flag on top of the bima at your synagogues and to recite the Prayer for Peace for the State of Israel.
In recent days, you are beginning your own struggle over what you see as a serious questioning of part of America’s basic values. Loyal to the legacy of Reform Judaism, you do not hesitate to speak up and act. The Reform Movement in the United States, was one of the first religious organizations to speak up against President Trump’s recent executive orders, with an emphasis on the order regarding immigration and refugee absorption and the order impacting organizations and agencies promoting women’s health and family planning.
Like the Israel Reform Movement, the Reform Movement in the United States does not affiliate with any particular party and leaves its synagogues’ doors open to all Jews. Yet your movement is based on values, beliefs, deeds and a deep commitment to the idea of Tikkun Olam. Just as the Reform Movement was one of the first Jewish movements to sound a clear Jewish voice in the 1960’s as part of the civil rights movement, so you do not hesitate to sound a clear Jewish and universal voice this time around. The vision of the Prophets mentioned in the Israel Declaration of Independence is also the vision which stands before YOU, our friends in the United States.
We know you, our friends across the ocean. You did not hesitate in the past to take out the Torah Scroll into the city streets and to march with it alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. You did not hesitate to walk with us and the Torah scrolls a few months ago at the Kotel. You will not hesitate to take it out this time as well, if doing so becomes necessary.
Now it is our turn to say to you: “Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed” (Joshua 1; 9)
Together we stand stronger in promoting justice, equality, inclusion and tolerance.
Yours in friendship and solidarity,
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, IMPJ President and CEO
Reuven Marko, IMPJ Chairperson
Anat Hoffman – Executive Director, IRAC
Rabbi Na’amah Kelman – Dean, HUC-JIR Jerusalem campus
Rabbi Prof. Yehoyada Amir – Chair, MARAM-The Israel Council of Reform Rabbis
Rabbi John Rosove's Response
Dear Gilad, Reuven, Anat, Naamah, and Yehoyada:
Waking up to your remarkable, touching and moving letter of solidarity with us in the United States is something I will never forget. All I can say as one of the recipients of your letter is "Thank you!"
Your outreach was unexpected and so well received. Please know this.
Again - thank you. Your letter is like water on parched earth.
With love and gratitude,