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Dear Friends,

Israel celebrated its 75th anniversary this past week. In and of itself, that is a remarkable achievement worthy of celebration. Sadly, some of the joy many may have felt was tempered by concerns over the ongoing “Judicial Reform” that is being pushed by the most extreme government Israel has ever had. Many people have expressed confusion over what is actually being proposed and why hundreds of thousands of Israelis from across the ideological and political spectrum have taken to the streets to demonstrate week after week.

This past Tuesday I had the privilege of being part of a panel discussion with my friend and teacher Yossi Klein HaLevi. Yossi is one of Israel’s most thoughtful and insightful thinkers, journalists and writers. The author of numerous books, including Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor and Like Dreamers, Yossi is a senior Fellow at the Hartman Institute. Also appearing on the panel were Jordana Horn Gordon, a member of the JCRC Steering Committee, and Rabbi Sam Klibanoff of Temple Etz-Chayim.

Yossi explained that Israelis are protesting not only the pace and scale of the proposed reforms to Israel’s highest court, but also what such “reform” could mean for Israel’s democracy and the very future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Yossi made clear that the demonstrators who have taken to the streets for the last four months do not come from one ideological perspective or another, but represent the broad diversity of Israeli society. Yossi helped me gain a better understanding of what is at stake and why American Jews should be concerned, engaged, and outspoken on the issue.

The discussion is rather long, but I found it invaluable to gaining better insights into what is happening and why. I hope you will take the time to watch it in its entirety HERE.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel Cohen

For Further Reading:

The Times of Israel: An open letter to Israel’s friends in North America

The Jerusalem Post: American Jews: Israel is yours, too – take ownership – opinion