At a time when polarization between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews is widely reported, there are ways that we may build fences between Jews, so as to integrate the Jewish spirituality of the non-Orthodox movements into Israeli society, in a way that both sides of the fence would be pleased.
The time has come, instead, to stress the positive, and that is that Reform and Conservative Jews are more than welcome to come to Israel to help Judaize a country that now copes with a tragic Israeli antisemitic fervor, that was expressed in the previous government, when Israel Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni virtually eliminated Jewish instruction from the public education school system, as a result of which we have a new generation of Israeli children who are growing up without any sense of Jewish or Zionist history, let alone exposure to Bible, Talmud or other Jewish sources, even from a secularist point of view.
A practical, positive and constructive suggestion, is to weave the best of Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews into informal educational facilities throughout the state of Israel. They would be more than welcome, by Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
To relate a short, personal and professional account: more than twenty years ago, I ran educational summer camping day programs for junior high school students from religious schools in Israeli development towns.
The idea was to enthuse these kids to stay in school and to stay with their Jewish identity.
We hired fifteen counselors with experience at Camp Ramah and UAHC, and they worked for two summers in the art of applying the best of their know-how from where they came from.
Watching Sephardi development town children wake up in the morning to Debbie Friedman songs of prayer and having children write their own poems to God were powerful lessons that these kids never forgot.
At the end of the first summer, I was called in by an elderly Yemenite superintendent of religious education at the main office of the Israel Ministry of Education in Jerusalem.
I did not know why he wanted to see me.
I remember to this day how I opened the door to his office, and how HE greeted me with a warm handshake, asking me if I could get some more counselors like this who worked from their hearts in education. He could have cared less that none of the counselors were Orthodox in practice.
The message is clear.
The non-Orthodox Jewish world can make a deep and serious contribution Israel. They will be loved, appreciated and not simply patronized if they do so.
That is what Klal Yisrael – the people of Israel- should be like. Forget about status. Deal with substance.