Safra Turner

Jewish world, we are here! Let the grassroots grow

The answer is right in front of you, but you don’t even see it.

This is what I have to say to the entire organized Jewish World: “WE ARE HERE”! You want to work on repairing relations between Israel and the Jewish World? You want to further Jewish Peoplehood? You want to begin to physically face the challenges facing the Jewish People?

Then hear me out. We have just created the ONLY lobby in Israel that will do just that.

As I sat in on the conversation discussing the difficulties of the Jewish People, in a high level closed roundtable at the Presidential Conference, I could not help but sit through half of the session with a bobbly head, non-stop nodding, smile on and off my face, mouth opening and closing like a gasping fish. You could say I was gasping, but not to breathe in the air of this group and their conversation, to let it out, share with them the grassroots steps that we ARE TAKING in order to face a few of the main challenges that were placed on the table.

Each participant, ranging from academics, parliamentarians, journalists, top figures in the Jewish world, and of course representatives of the JPPPI, was asked to state what they felt are the top three challenges facing the Jewish world today.

Jerry Silverman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jewish Federations of North America, posed three issues: Strengthening Jewish identity, evolving Israel- Diaspora relations and the growing gap between Israel and the Jewish World, and including the younger generation and the challenges of keeping them attached in the Jewish World.

Joelle Fiss, author of Tiptoeing on Minefields, posed her take on three essential issues: Peace and stability of Israel with its neighbors, internal divisions between Israel and the Jewish World, and between Jews themselves, and the gap between the affiliated and unaffiliated Jews.

Geopolitical issues certainly topped the list as well, proving the importance of the survival of the State of Israel for the global Jewish people.

The participants went on; many of the issues were overlapping. It was clear that some of the main issues are our internal divisions and the divide between Israel and the Jewish world.

As for solutions? Well, Joelle gets a whole blog post dedicated to her ideas in the very near future, because I believe that there is a real ability to enact them. For now, we can suffice with taking the EU model of .02% of the population taking a stand on an issue, and the EU government MUST consider the topic…not necessarily agree, but to discuss and give an opinion. Let’s get that .02% (26,000 Jews) to sign our petition! You can be sure that waves will be made!

There was also the grassroots solution, discussed quite a bit, but with the stated sense that there was not enough grassroots activity taking place.

AND I JUST WANTED TO SCREAM, “Here we are!” You want grassroots? You want a movement that is working to close the gap between Israel and the Jewish World? You want to end the deligitimization of Jews by the Israeli rabbinate, causing a deep divide between Israel and the Jewish world? You want to bring in those who want to be involved but are being ignored?

We have set up a whole lobby, just for you Jerry Silverman, and you Fredrick Lawrence, and you Glenn Lewy, and you each of the rest of the 12,499,997 million Jews in the world. We have done the dirty work, set up a lobby out of a group of concerned olim-by-choice.

We are the human bridge that connects Israel to the greater Jewish world. Our stated purpose is to reconnect Israel and the Jewish world through olim-by-choice. We directly experience those policies that are dividing Israel from the Jewish world, we are Israel’s strongest advocates, or when quelled, we can be Israel’s worst PR. We have the knowhow and legitimacy to fix issues right here, on the ground.

Here in the Israeli political arena, we are beginning to be heard. But we need organized world Jewry to unite itself (for real, not pretend) and give us the support we need to help us to PHYSICALLY fix some of those major issues facing the Jewish people, Israel, and our existential survival in the future.

We are at a point, where the organized Jewish world can continue to ignore those same grass roots organizations that are so desperately needed to literally fix the issues facing the Jewish people, or you can pay attention, let us in, and support us on our missions. Don’t say we didn’t shout it from the rooftops. WE ARE HERE!

About the Author
Safra made aliya in 1997, and has been involved in the Jewish world both professionally and voluntarily throughout her life. She currently resides near Haifa and owns a small translation business. Safra is married and has one son.