A bridge was built. A bridge was burned.

On January 5, 25,000 Jews and their allies held a rally in New York City in unity with Haredi Jews who have been the target of antisemitic attacks.

On January 7, it was reported that Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef bemoaned the Law of Return and condemned non-halachic Olim as enemies of Judaism.

A bridge was built.  A bridge was burned.  This bridge must be rebuilt.

I strongly disagree with Rabbi Josef.  The Law of Return is a cornerstone of the creation of the democratic State of Israel.  It was developed based on the Nazi Nuremburg Laws defining and marking who is a Jew for purposes of extermination.    All Jews, Halachic or not, were unified in their persecution then as we are now in the face of rising Anti-Semitism.  All Jews, Halachic or not, are in this together.  That is the beauty of the Law of Return, that all Jews are called Home from Exile as one People, with one heart with open arms.

The people that Rabbi Yosef is calling out are Jews who serve proudly in the army, Jews who pay taxes to support the State of Israel, Jews who are politically engaged in the future of the Jewish Homeland.  They are Jews who would die for that shared homeland, Rabbi Yosef.

I believe that unity and cohesiveness are strategic assets.  I believe the all Israeli citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, make up a beautifully diverse Israeli mosaic.  The divisive words against this one group of Olim from the FSU  threatens to further crack the fragile unity that binds this delicate mosaic.

Israel’s heart is big enough for all of us.  Let’s strive to make our individual and collective Jewish heart big enough for all of her.

About the Author
Julia Malaga is a Jewish communal professional with a strong interest in strengthening Israel/Diaspora relations and building living bridges within the Jewish world and between the various Tribes of Israel. She is currently the co-chair of the Kedma Shared Society Platform of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ.
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