The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

A couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of meeting with local activists of the Masorti Kehillat Ohel Menashe in Yokneam Ilit. In this lower galilee town of 25,000+ — with 30 Orthodox synagogues and just one pluralistic community — this modest but dynamic Masorti kehillah is making a difference for its members and the entire town.

Dana Pe’er from the Ohel Menashe reports:

Last week we organized a special event for all of Yokneam called “Making a Place” on inclusion of LBGTQ Jews in Jewish life. Led by a member of our community, the group watched a short film — And Thou Shalt Love by Chaim Elbaum – and heard a moving personal story from one of the participants on their experience being both part of a Jewish religious community and LBGTQ. It was followed by open and frank conversation in the group that brought to light yet another struggle for acceptance in Israel.

We are pleased that we were able to bring this to Yokneam, particularly since it was one of very few, if any, similar events in a national project called Pesach Sheni, to be held north of Tel Aviv.

Our Yokneam event resonates even more strongly after our Israeli Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision song contest and declared, “Thank you for choosing something different. Choosing something that’s evolved. Choosing 2018. I am proud and honored to do this. I am proud and honored to bring this magical event to Israel next year.”

Like Netta, we are proud and honored to celebrate acceptance and to be open to all. There is more than one way to be a Jew!

Kol HaKavod to Dana and her colleagues at Ohel Menashe. They are a fantastic representative of the many Masorti communities across Israel that not only create opportunities for pluralistic Jewish religious practice, but — based on their core Jewish values – help guide their broader local communities to address essential issues of inclusion, justice, equality and peace. Once again, in Masorti the false choice of Judaism or democracy and inclusion is firmly rejected.

Gideon Aronoff visiting Ohel Menashe in Yokneam

Netta Barzilai