Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Why Bronfman’s Patience With Jerusalem is Waning” (May 11), begs a response.
No one can deny the huge contribution of Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt as co-creators of Birthright Israel. We are extremely thankful for their innovative concept and for their over-flowing generosity in funding this endeavor, as well as many other important Israeli causes.
Reporting on Bronfman’s disappointment (and perhaps your own as well) with the more traditional leanings of Israel’s current government, you present some misconceptions that require clarification.
Firstly, it is not the “rightward shift” of our Knesset that has widened the rift between Israeli and American Jewry. This rift pre-dates the Netanyahu government, coming rather from the disenfranchisement of most of American Jews from their religious identity. It is the growing liberalization of the members of the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.
Israel does care about what happens in the global Jewish world. That’s why we send educators, youth leaders, rabbis and other emissaries around the world to teach and inspire young and old alike about our Jewish history, the Hebrew language and Torah.
Additionally, liberal branches of Jews are “perplexed and angry” that their movements are not recognized as valid. We welcome all Jews to come, pray, visit or settle here. However, there is a big difference between accepting Jews as individuals and accepting liberal movements as valid. These liberal movements have proven themselves to be failures in promoting a Jewish way of life in America. Why should we import a failure to Israel?
The Land of Israel is God-given. We therefore have no right to give any part of biblical Israel away. We love you, American Jews. Come have a more fulfilling Jewish life here where even secular Jews know when it is Shabbat or “minor” holidays.