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Anat Speaking at J Street

Videos from the J Street "Making History Conference", where Anat Hoffman was the keynote speaker are available on line. 

     
 
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Anat Speaking at J Street

Videos from the J Street "Making History Conference", where Anat Hoffman was the keynote speaker are available on line. 

Congratulations Anat!

Dear Friends of IRAC,

On behalf of the North American Reform Jewish Movement and all people who appreciate equality in Israel, we offer our sincere and hearty congratulations to Anat Hoffman on her 10th anniversary with the Israel Religious Action Center. It is a true milestone for this committed Israeli activist.

Anat has long been a partner of the Reform Movement in North America, and it has been our unique pleasure to work closely with her on matters affecting progressive Jews in Israel and beyond. A fierce and inspiring Jewish leader, Anat has touched the lives of so many people in Israel and around the world.

It is Anat’s fiery passion for the issues on which IRAC works that propels her forward in the face of adversity and challenge. When she takes up a cause – be it fighting against segregation in the public sphere or addressing racist incitement by state rabbis – she dedicates her entire self to seeing it through. From the beginning of Anat’s career, she knew that women’s voices in Israel would stay on the margins if she did not make her own heard. It is no wonder, then, that today, Israeli women ranging from secular to Orthodox look to Anat with thanks and pride as she stands up to the tide of religious extremism that is trying to literally keep them on the back of the bus.

As an Israeli who understands and relates naturally to Diaspora Judaism, Anat also acts as an ambassador for Progressive Judaism, rallying supporters wherever she goes. In this capacity, she has traveled millions of miles to visit Jewish communities as far-flung as Sydney, London, Houston, Cape Town, and nearly every other corner of the world imaginable. Thanks to her dedication and perseverance, countless Jews outside of Israel have become active and engaged supporters of the vital work being done by IRAC.

Though Anat has seen important successes in the courts and in the Knesset, she has never been one to rest on her laurels. As soon as one battle is complete, she immediately begins to prepare for the next challenge, whether fighting a bill that would redefine “who is a Jew” or seeking to grant every Israeli the right to marry who they love without coercion from the Rabbinate. Who could have imagined that flooding the segregated bus lines with freedom riders would have yielded such astounding results? Anat remains focused on the end goal, never hesitating to think outside the box; her creativity and commitment make her one of the most notable – and most successful – activists of our time.

We and the entire North American Reform Movement thank Anat for her enormous dedication to our joint cause of establishing equality and religious freedom for the Jewish State. Her 10 years at IRAC have been marked by enormous struggles and immeasurable successes – and we are confident that in the years to come, she will persist in fighting the good fight for social justice. We look forward to continuing to act as partners and friends of Anat and the IRAC, bringing Israeli and Diaspora Jewry together to achieve justice and equality for all Jews.

To our dear friend Anat: Congratulations on your 10 years with the Israel Religious Action Center, and thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do. In this important and holy work, may you go from strength to strength.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Rick Jacobs (President, Union for Reform Judaism)

Rabbi David Saperstein (Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism)

An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

Dear Friends of IRAC,

An offer I couldn’t refuse – that’s what IRAC Executive Director Anat Hoffman made me when, after she spoke at Montreal’s Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, I indicated that I was looking for volunteer work for my winter sabbatical in Jerusalem. Then and there she asked me to volunteer at IRAC.

I said yes with enthusiasm. My engaging assignments have placed me alongside Anat’s dedicated staff. I helped to promote and lead Freedom Rides that ensure the desegregation of Israel’s buses, launch a social justice sermon data base, recruit IRAC volunteers in North America, and I had a front row seat to observe IRAC in action. It has been a sabbatical of both learning and giving, volunteer work that I can recommend to any rabbinic colleague as both a challenge and a worthy use of expertise.

One day in February, I met up with Nicole Maor, Director of IRAC's Legal Aid Center for Olim . I owe Nicky. No, we owe Nicky. She and her team of lawyers have gone to bat for at least 3 Jews who studied and became Jewish in Montreal, and she won their aliyah each time. I introduced myself and thanked her. We spoke for a few moments about the Reform Jews from Montreal whom she defended, and she told me she was similarly defending a New York woman at the Israel Supreme Court in a few days. I wanted to be present as a statement to Nicky that we in the Movement support and honor her work, so I gave her a hug and promised her I’d be there to welcome a new Israeli oleh.

While we Reform Jews may be major players in North America, we’re not major players in Israel, where our rabbis cannot officially do marriages, divorces, burial services, and conversions. The Israeli rabbinate does its best to delegitimize our movement.

A problem in their program of de-legitimization is the Law of Return, which requires Israel to recognize converts of rabbis from abroad. The Interior Ministry, controlled by an ultra-Orthodox political party, decides who is accepted as a Jew from outside Israel. If it can block American, Canadian, and other Reform converts from recognition, the ministry advances its desire to marginalize us and ultimately to force the Jewish world to see us as irrelevant.

IRAC draws the line of battle for Reform (and Conservative) converts at the Israeli Supreme Court, so I betook myself at 9 AM one February morning to sit in Courtroom Gimel awaiting 3 judges to hear the case of one Reform convert to Judaism defended by Nicole Maor. .
This case wasn't settled that day, but I believe Nicky will win it for us, and I wish I could be there to see the smiles.

There’s a thank-you we can give to Nicole Maor, to her legal staff, and to IRAC fortheir legal defense of our movement. We must support and sustain their work of assuring that the full acceptance of the Israeli government goes to all of us Reform Jews, including those who have chosen Judaism, and our Israeli Reform rabbis and synagogues.

If we’re not real in Israel, in today’s Jewish world, we’re not for real. IRAC fights for our legitimacy, fights all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, and IRAC is winning. In effect, they legitimize our congregations, our rabbis and the congregations and rabbis of all other non-Orthodox movements. That’s why I focused my sabbatical volunteer work on IRAC and that’s why I believe IRAC must be strengthened.

As I return to Montreal, I want to thank Anat Hoffman for opening the door to a rabbinic volunteer, providing significant work that employed my skills, and connecting me to her competent staff. Anat is imaginative, joyful, serious, and dedicated, the engine of IRAC’s accomplishment. I worked closely with Dalit Wolf-Golan, Steven Beck, and Eyal Ostrinsky, all of whom offered a warm welcome. Thank you, and may your work be blessed with continuing success.

To my rabbinic colleagues: consider working as an IRAC rabbinic volunteer on your next sabbatical in Jerusalem.

Now I’ve got homework to do for IRAC, as we build a social action sermon data base for the Reform Movement. IRAC, I’ll be working for you from Montreal, and God willing, next year in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Leigh Lerner
Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, Montreal

 

Deadly shooting at Jewish school in Toulouse

 by France 24, March 19, 2012

At least four people have been killed, including a father and his two sons, after a man on a scooter opened fire outside a Jewish school in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.

A Tree Grows in Beit Shemesh
 
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