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In a Reversal of Roles, Israel Sends Aid to American Jews

Sept. 6 2017

As Houston begins recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of Diaspora affairs, has announced that his office will provide $1 million in aid to the city’s Jewish community. This, writes Elliott Abrams, heralds a new phase in the Jewish state’s relations with American Jewry:

It was bound to happen, sooner or later. With the rapid increase over the years in Israel’s GDP and in its population, Israel is no longer a poor country that needs the philanthropy of American Jews to survive. And the balance between the American Jewish population and the Israeli Jewish population has shifted as well. Depending on exactly how you count, there are more Jews in Israel today than in the United States—or if not, there will be soon. . . .

The Jerusalem Post calls [Bennett’s decision] a “rare move,” but I’d bet this sort of thing will become less rare over time. It is logical to expect Israel to show, in ways such as this, that it is steadily becoming the largest and most important Jewish community in the world. Once upon a time, the center of world Jewish life was in Israel; then it moved to Europe, then to the United States, and now it is moving back to where it all began.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: American Jewry, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Naftali Bennett, Texas

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount