It has recently come to our attention that there was an open letter addressed to NFTY regarding our response to the events taking place in Gaza. The URJ and NFTY have been working hard to address the complexities of this issue.
In NFTY’s 13 Principles we affirm the centrality of the State of Israel to the strength and survival of the Jewish people. It is because of this love for Israel that NFTY and the Reform Movement have been among the first to support and join those who are critical of policies of the Israeli Government. We have regularly acknowledged the conflict and have outwardly opposed home demolitions, spoken out against settlement expansions, and recently, called for the de-escalation of violence on the Gaza border. In our support of those who critique Israel and commitment to the inclusion of varying opinions and perspectives, a letter was written to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a ban was put in place that would have restricted Birthright members. The letter was well received, and all members of Birthright trips were accepted into Israel with assurance of their inclusion, regardless of a stance on Israeli politics.
We as NFTY’s North American Board are committed to making this a priority this year. Though no curriculum will ever completely explain the history of Israel, we are aware that there is room for improvement in our current education programs. We, at NFTY, are at the beginning of our terms and about to embark on our summer at URJ Kutz Camp, where we plan to work with teens from around the world to evaluate the way we educate on Israel and begin designing an Israel curriculum for this year that reflects the issues of the times and focuses on including multiple points of view.
The URJ bridges a wide range of opinions within its membership and works to represent the opinions of Reform Jews in North America. We take seriously our role as a convener of respectful and constructive dialogue around this critical issue and are ready to do so in hopes of opening up a dialogue that addresses the concerns of our membership and educational enrichment.
The 2018-2019 NFTY North American Board