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Before election, Israel approved $2.3 million plan to improve its image among Reform and Conservative Jews: Report

(JTA) — Concerned that progressive values widely held by American Jews were fueling growing skepticism about the Jewish state, the Israeli government launched an unprecedented plan to counter the trend, according to internal documents obtained by the Israeli watchdog newsroom Shomrim.

The documents reveal a $2.3 million partnership between Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States focused on pro-Israel advocacy among young and liberal American Jews. 

Shomrim’s Uri Blau reported that the fate of the plan is uncertain following Israel’s recent election, which saw major gains for the far right, including a politician who has called Reform Judaism a “fake religion.” 

With negotiations among political factions underway, the final shape of the country’s next government has not yet been determined, but the various scenarios on the table have made many American Jews uneasy because of the racism and homophobia espoused by some of those who were elected. Reform leaders have said Israel’s democracy is in peril. 

A government that includes ultranationalists “will almost certainly lead to challenging moments in U.S.-Israel relations and will be painful for Jews worldwide who will not see the Israel they love and believe in reflected in these leaders, nor in the policies they pursue,” the Union for Reform Judaism said in a statement about the election.

Israeli’s outgoing minister of diaspora affairs, Nachman Shai, told Shomrim that while past Israeli governments have been reluctant to engage with the Reform and Conservative movements, he made it a priority of his office. He said the tensions between the two sides have to do with values. 

“That’s why it was very important for the current government to emphasize values shared by both us and them, such as diversity and minority representation,” Shai said. “We want to demonstrate that we nevertheless share common values.”

The leaked documents from Shai’s ministry show that he and other Israeli officials are paying attention to evidence that American Jews have grown more critical of Israel over time

Whoever authored the analysis in the documents blames the embrace of progressive values among U.S. Jews for rising anti-Israel currents in the community. The situation is the result of “the internalization of the progressive discourse framework among a growing number of Jews,” the documents say, according to Shomrim.

The analysis also says that American Jewish identity, unity and communal character are under threat amid changing attitudes toward Israel.

The budget for the plan is reportedly earmarked toward bringing American youth to Israel for trainings and educational trips, holding community events in the United States and other related advocacy.

The documents obtained by Shomrim make no mention of the issues that many American liberal Jews say bother them about Israel, including religious pluralism and the occupation.

“The terms ‘Palestinians,’ settlements,’ ‘Western Wall, ‘equality,’’ and ‘intermarriage,’ and a long list of topics that are at the root of the conflict with American Jewry are not in there,” Blau reported. 

Leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements were interviewed by Shomrim before the election but declined to speak on the topic further after the Nov. 1 vote, which has positioned Benjamin Netanyahu to return to power with the support of the Religious Zionists political bloc.

On Tuesday, the Zionist arm of the worldwide Masorti-Conservative movement, MERCAZ Olami, released a statement suggesting that a coalition including far-right extremists could threaten the ties that the government initiative was meant to strengthen.

“It is impossible to ignore the fact that the coalition which appears to be in the making, will include politicians whose positions regarding basic elements of democracy and diversity (such as Jewish pluralism, LGBTQ and vulnerable minorities) significantly differ from the values which have guided Zionism since its inception,” read the group’s statement, which was endorsed by nearly a dozen groups associated with the Conservative movement. 

It went on, “The bridges between Israel and world Jewry could be severely damaged if a step back will be taken on sensitive issues like the Egalitarian Kotel, conversion, and who is a Jew.”


The post Before election, Israel approved $2.3 million plan to improve its image among Reform and Conservative Jews: Report appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.

A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs

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