By Jay Ruderman
Dan Brown, founder of eJewish Philanthropy, makes a solid point in this recent piece, that Israel and Israelis need to be more accountable to the Diaspora cousins who are so heavily invested in Israel.
Taking Diaspora views into account when decisions are being made, especially ones that directly impact them, ie the painful “Who is a Jew” controversy a few years back, makes good sense and should be automatic as we think more and more globally about our Jewish family.
Let’s start by really listening to each other and then — even as we celebrate our family ties — respecting the differences in the challenges we face.
Anyone scanning the Jewish press on either side of the ocean these last few weeks since the news of the Beit Shemesh attack surfaced has seen the word “unity” again and again. To achieve this, it helps to sit down and talk to each other with respect. The Torah points the way for us. In the beginning of Genesis, we see a family of shepherds fusing into a people, each one playing the role needed to support the whole.
Dan takes it a little too far, however, calling for withholding of funds. I believe we can reach an understanding and appreciation of each without such extremes, but instead by engaging in serious dialogue. Indeed, Israelis in particular could learn a lot if they took the time to really listen to what our Diaspora family is thinking and feeling.
This need to understand and respect each other has never been more pressing, which is why our Foundation, working with Brandeis University, sends a group of Knesset members to the US each spring. After this experience, these Ruderman Fellows return home with a new awareness of their Diaspora cousins’ Jewish lives, their values, hopes and dreams.
Working together, may we all come to understand, respect and truly appreciate each other and how each one of us can contribute to the Jewish people and the Jewish future.
– Jay Ruderman