Israel Can Do Much to Help Diaspora Jewry, While Spending Little

July 13 2020

Last week, the Israeli government approved a plan put forward by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to strengthen ties with Jewish communities around the world, and to provide them with support. Unfortunately, writes Caroline Glick, the plan is “heavy on platitudes but empty of substance.” Glick suggests some better ways the Jewish state can be of service:

As the Diaspora Ministry’s program points out, particularly in the U.S., only a tiny minority of Jewish children study in Jewish day schools. High tuition prices most Jews out of the system. It isn’t Israel’s job to subsidize Jewish day schools abroad [but] Israel’s Education Ministry could develop curricula and publish textbooks and other educational materials for Jewish students in the Diaspora.

Second, . . . Israel has a surfeit of teachers and no problem training more. It could launch a program to train teachers to teach in Diaspora communities for a period of thee-to-five years. Such a program could include scholarships for teacher-accreditation programs and dedicated training ahead of relocation. Israel can subsidize the teachers’ salaries or partner with philanthropists to finance their work abroad.

Today there are already extraordinary programs in Israel that train young rabbis to serve as community rabbis in Diaspora Jewish communities. The young rabbis and their families move to far-flung communities for five years where they build, organize, and serve the communities. . . . The government should support and expand these programs. By sending young Israeli rabbis abroad, Israel will lower synagogue membership costs—and through them the cost of living Jewish lives. These rabbis and their families will develop strong, lasting grassroots relationships between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jewry.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Diaspora, Israel and the Diaspora, Jewish community, Jewish education, Rabbis

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform