Alienated liberal Jews in Israel need to reach out to create bonds with alienated liberal Jews in America, of the sort that currently connect empowered Jewish conservatives in the two countries. That was the basic consensus that emerged from what’s believed to be Israel’s first-ever conference on combating alienation from Israel among American Jewish liberals. It took place in Tel Aviv on June 30.
“We in Israel don’t speak to our counterparts in the Diaspora,” said veteran Jewish educator Avraham Infeld, former president of Hillel International, speaking at the closing session of the day-long conference. “We don’t create ties. We don’t create joint projects with alienated Jews in the Diaspora. We should be using every opportunity we can.”
The conference was sponsored Bina, a 20-year-old Tel Aviv educational center that promotes pluralistic Jewish text study with a social-justice emphasis. It brought together about 60 participants, a mixture of Israeli and American Jewish social activists, educators and students. (Full disclosure: I spoke on one of the day’s panels, on the political implications of Israel-Diaspora strains.)