Standing Up for Religious Pluralism in Israel

If you think that Israeli Jews have but two choices– to be Orthodox or to be secular–then I have news for you. The Masorti Movement (Conservative Judaism) is a growing presence in our beloved Israel. It is:

….an indigenous effort by Israelis for Israelis to create a pluralistic, egalitarian, inclusive approach to living a Jewish life in Israel. The name Masorti is derived from the Hebrew “Masoret,” meaning “tradition.” The Movement honors and preserves our traditions. It also respects how modern Israelis live today and strongly advocates for religious freedom for all Jews in Israel.

There are now nearly 80 congregations (kehillot) across Israel. That should come as good news to anyone who cares about Jewish diversity and pluralism.

Think of the things that American Conservative Jews take for granted: mixed seating in services, Bat Mitzvah for girls, full participation in rituals for men and women, to name but a few.

Shouldn’t our fellow Jews living in the Jewish homeland have the freedom of Jewish practice that American Jews enjoy? Thanks to the Masorti movement, this is possible.

But Masorti has a funding challenge. In Israel, State funding is limited to Orthodox religious institutions. Virtually no public funding goes to Masorti (or Reform) Movements. The Masorti Movement must fundraise to support its congregations, rabbis, and community programs in Israel. One of the ways they fundraise is through their annual Gala.

That leads me to the second piece of good news.

For the first time, the National Masorti Gala will take place in the Twin Cities, on Sunday, April 2, 5:30 p.m., at Adath Jeshurun Congregation. It will be a memorable and delicious evening of Israeli foods and wines, as well as a benefit for the Movement.

What inspired the Masorti Foundation to choose us, instead of New York or LA, the sites of prior Galas? They recognized that the Twin Cities is a leader in its strong support of Israel and the Masorti Movement.

“The Masorti Foundation also wanted to honor Rabbi Harold Kravitz,” said Gala chair Heidi Schneider. “He has done so much to raise the profile of Conservative Judaism in Israel, both in the Twin Cities, and nationally among his rabbinic peers.”

The Gala will also honor one of the founders of the Masorti movement, Rabbi Michael Graetz, of Omer, Israel. Twin Cities Masorti community leaders, Louis Newman and Rabbi Amy Eilberg, will be honored as well.

The theme of the Gala is “From Strength to Strength”. It will celebrate how the Twin Cities Jewish community and our Israeli Masorti friends support and build with one another.

A true Twin Cities event, the Rabbinic Host Committee includes Rabbis Morris Allen, Alexander Davis, Avraham Ettedgui, Jeremy Fine, and Aaron Weininger.

A range of ticket options is available.

Says Gala co­mmittee member Kim Gedan, “As Jews, we are all part of a larger Jewish world. We are connected to each other through the Masorti Movement. The Gala is an opportunity for our Twin Cities Jewish community to show our unified support for pluralism, egalitarianism and religious freedom.”

If the work of Masorti aligns with your values, then the opportunity to act on those values is coming to you.

To register online, visit: www.masorti.org/2017­national­gala.

You can follow the Gala on Facebook at Twin Cities Masorti Committee and Twin Cities Masorti National Gala Event.

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About Sally Abrams

Sally is a speaker and writer on Israel, Jewish life, and parenting, passionate about raising the next generation with ahavat Yisrael. You can find her at sallygabrams.com.

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