Jewish communities in North America

Sandra Saltzman, JEN Outreach Coordinator, JVS Chicago

“I did not visit Israel until my adulthood, it was by far one of the most remarkable and meaningful experiences of my life; the people, culture that I identified with, the country itself… everything.” The Interviewee – Sandra Saltzman, JEN (Jewish Employment Network) Outreach Coordinator, JVS

William Bietsch, Professional in the advertising industry, Chicago

“I don’t believe that all of world Jewry needs to make Aliyah which would just create another vulnerable ghetto.“ The Interviewee – William Bietsch (Born 1968), Born in Springfield, IL. I currently work on the Publicis Groupe Strategy and Growth Team and have worked in various capacities

Malka Young, Director at JFS, Greater Boston area

“There is a vibrant, authentic Jewish life outside of the State of Israel, and one does not have to live in Israel to lead a full life as a Jew.“ The Interviewee – Malka Young (Born 1950’s), Director of Elder and Communal services at JFS.

Bentzion Chanowitz, President at Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach Jewish Loan Society, Brooklyn, New York

“The Jews in the diaspora have to follow what the Jews in Israel are thinking because they are front line.“ The Interviewee – Bentzion Chanowitz, I run the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach which provides Kosher primary and secondary Torahs to start-up Shuls and Chabad centers

Susan Rosenbluth, Editor and Publisher, New Jersey

“Many, but not all, Israelis now realize that the two fastest-growing movements outside and inside Israel are the secular and the Orthodox.“ The Interviewee – Susan Rosenbluth (Born 1947), editor and publisher of The Jewish Voice and Opinion and Born in New York, currently

Sandy Wasserman, Consultant, Florida

“When we take inventory of the progress being made daily on this relatively small piece of land, it does indicate to us that Israel is a model for our planet to follow.“ The Interviewee – Sandy Wasserman (Born 1940), Consultant. I grew up in Brooklyn NY,

Rabbi Justin Kerber, Hospital Chaplain, St. Louis

“I do my best to defend Israel’s interests by speaking up for them when I’m able to, in speech or in writing, and simply to be the best informal ambassador I am able to be.“ The Interviewee – Rabbi Justin Kerber (Born 1969), BCC, Chaplain. I grew

Joannie Friedman, Producer, Baltimore

“The geopolitical safety of the state of Israel cannot be provided by the Orthodox segment.“ The Interviewee – Joannie Friedman, Producer. I live in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m working on bringing JOSEPHINE to the great white way…a musical based on a period of time in life of Josephine

Albert Kaplan, Animals rights activist, Nevada

“Israel will become a Theocracy. It is certain, merely a matter of time.” The Interviewee – Albert Kaplan (Born 1932), Former stockbroker, animals rights activist, anti-abortion activist, anti-vivisection activist. Born in Gouverneur, New York. Married, reside in rural Nevada. In your opinion, what importance, if any,

Belle Jarniewski, Chair at Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, Winnipeg

“I think that Israel has for far too long related to a rightwing audience. Of course there is funding from the Sheldon Adelsons of the world and his ilk. However, I believe that there is a real danger of alienating the younger generation by continuing

Ranen Omer-Sherman, Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Louisville

“The well-being of Israelis seems to me increasingly dependent on learning from Diaspora perspectives on a variety of issues such as multiculturalism, women’s rights, secularism, tolerance for the other, and democratic values. These are all threatened in Israel today.” The Interviewee – Ranen Omer-Sherman (Born

Debra Polsky, Executive Director, Dallas Jewish Historical Society

“For the Jewish people, I think Israel is a source of pride (most of the time), a source of consternation when we don’t understand or agree with her leadership, and a rallying point behind which most of stand faithfully.” The Interviewee – Debra Polsky (Born

Mira Sucharov, Associate Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa

“I feel committed to ensuring that Israel is a democracy. In its current form, I think its democratic status is eroding.” The Interviewee – Mira Sucharov (Born 1972), Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa. Columnist, Haaretz, Jewish Daily Forward, Canadian Jewish News.

William Wolff, Hillel BC Program Coordinator, Canada

“I don’t feel morally responsible for Israel’s actions but it affects my interaction with Canadian society.” The Interviewee – William Wolff, Hillel BC Program Coordinator. Born in Mexico. Moved to Canada. MA degree in psychoanalysis. Currently working for Hillel BC. In your opinion, what importance, if

Dr. Gilbert N. Kahn, Professor of Political Science, NYC

“The triumphalist attitude of the Orthodox in Israel–and to some extent in the American–could well accelerate a growing disaffection and connection among large numbers of non-Orthodox.” The Interviewee – Dr. Gilbert N. Kahn (Born 1942), Professor of Political Science, Kean University. Born in New York. I am a professor

A. Montreal

“I think that as a Jew living in the diaspora you do not have any other choice. Eventually people will ask/demand an ‘explanation/justification’ to Israel’s actions (regardless if you support Israel’s actions or not).” The Interviewee – A. Lives in Montreal. Asked to remain anonymous. In your

Vernon Kurtz, Rabbi at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El Highland Park, Illinois

“I do not currently live in Israel and therefore do not feel comfortable judging Israel’s military and political actions.” The Interviewee –Vernon Kurtz (Born 1951), Rabbi at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El Highland Park Il. I was born in Toronto, Canada. In your opinion, what importance,

Rabbi David L Kline, Brooklyn, New York

“Israel is the spiritual and intellectual spark for Diaspora Jews. This means providing opportunities for visits and study and promoting cultural missions from the Land to the lands.” The Interviewee – Rabbi David L Kline (Born 1935), I was born in Asheville. My grandfather in Budapest

Benjamin L. Shinewald, Toronto

“Allowing Jews of all background and perspectives to find their own paths to Jewish identity would make Israel a far more vibrant place, Jewishly.” The Interviewee – Benjamin L. Shinewald (Born 1972),  I was born in Winnipeg, Canada. I am a lawyer/professional living in Toronto. I write

Rabbi Judith Seid, San Francisco

“We are legitimate Jews, the diaspora is what shaped Jewish culture and that diaspora culture isn’t something to be ashamed of.” The Interviewee – Judith Seid (Born 1949), Rabbi and Cantor Also CPA. I Grew up in Los Angeles. Now live about 40 miles east of San Francisco. In

Rabbi Joseph R. Black, Sr. Rabbi at Temple Emanuel, Denver

“As Zionists – as Jews we must be vigilant in our defense of Israel’s Right to Exist.” The Interviewee – Rabbi Joseph R. Black (Born 1959), Sr. Rabbi at Temple Emanuel, Denver, Colorado. I was born in Chicago, IL in 1959. l Very active in the Reform

Keith Senzer, Owner at Powershift Coaching, NY

“Though American I consider Israel my homeland and am 100% behind it being protected and recognized.” The Interviewee – Keith Senzer (Born 1968), Owner Powershift Coaching. I am a Youth Empowerment Coach, live in Merrick NY and Keep kosher in the house and have a 19 years old girl

Rabbi Joshua Rabin, Director of Kehilla Enrichment, USCJ

“Israel is, to use a sports metaphor, the Jewish people’s team. I feel a need to care about it, and I refuse to abandon it, even if I am not wild about everything Israel does. That’s what it means to be a covenantal relationship.” The

Aliza Silverstein, Chicago, Illinois

“I identify as orthodox. I believe Israel should be a theocracy. However I do not agree with the chareidi power grab” The Interviewee – Aliza Silverstein (Born 1953), Chicago, Illinois. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state have to you

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D. Spiritual leader, Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation

“My experience with Israelis indicates to me that they are upset that we do not make Aliyah. While I understand their concern, I believe it is unfounded. There have always been Diaspora Jews since the destruction of the first Temple.” The Interviewee – Rabbi Irwin

R’, Member of the American Jewish Community

“We have a moral stake in Israel. While Israelis have a country to worry about and how it affects their lives.” The Interviewee – Member of the American Jewish Community. Requested to remain anonymous. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, Executive Director, Big Tent Judaism, New Jersey

“I believe that the dominance of so-called Orthodoxy in the religious establishment in Israel is becoming less and less relevant to me and causing a further undermining of the relationship between American Jews and Israel.” The Interviewee – Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky (Born 1954), Executive Director, Big

Stephen Horblitt, Retired, Washington D.C.

“I feel very committed to the defense of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” The Interviewee – Stephen Horblitt (Born 1942), Retired, former Director External Relations at Creative Associates International and also for 14 years a Legislative Director on Capitol hill. Before that I

Norman Goldstein, Retired Attorney, Community Activist, Chicago

“When will you have the guts to take on the ULTRA-Orthodox establishment to enable the State of Israel to live to to its full potential as a democratic country serving the diverse interests of ALL of its people?” The Interviewee – Norman Goldstein (Born 1942),

Ted Sokolsky, Sr. Strategic advisor to the Jewish Agency, Canada

“Israelis fail to fully comprehend the meaning of Jewish Peoplehood, and as such fail to really understand our interdependence and connectivity.” The Interviewee – Ted Sokolsky (Born 1951), past CEO of Jewish Federation of Toronto, currently a Sr. Strategic advisor to the Jewish Agency. Born in Toronto, I’m

Sophia Maler, Marketing Manager, California

“I don’t think some Israelis really understand the commitment it requires to be Jewish in diaspora. But this is not true about all Israelis.” The Interviewee – Sophia Maler (Born 1969), Marketing Manager, San Carlos , California. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does

James Hendricks, Broker, San Francisco

“Do you believe a Jew must be on the Rabinate’s approved list of Judaism’s and cultures in order to make Aliya or marry?” The Interviewee – James Hendricks (Born 1972), Broker. I was born in Chicago. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of

Prof. Zachary Braiterman, Director, Jewish Studies Program, Syracuse University

“I think the dominance in Israel of orthodox Judaism, religious settlements, racism, and messianism are destructive to the fabric of Jewish life.” The Interviewee – Zachary Braiterman (Born 1963), Professor, Department of Religion, Director, Jewish Studies Program, Syracuse University. Born in Baltimore, phd from Stanford,  alumnus of Habonim Dror. In

Lucinda Lees, Registered Nurse, California

“To say that Jews are morally responsible for the actions of the state seems foolish. We should be educated, if we disagree we should be vocal.” The Interviewee – Lucinda Lees (Born 1978), Registered Nurse. Grew up on the east coast, Bay Area since 1997 In

Lauren Helfand, Alameda, CA

“I really wish the Orthodox weren’t so dominant. I’m glad that the Progressive movement is growing stronger in Israel.” The Interviewee – Lauren Helfand, Alameda, CA. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state have to you personally and

B, Los Angeles

“I think it’s problematic that non Orthodox Jews are not given the rights and respect they deserve under the law.” The Interviewee – B,  Los Angeles, requested to remain anonymous. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state have to

Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Director, Center for Jewish Ethics, Philadelphia

“I am ideologically committed to religious pluralism and the separation of all religions from all governments. Israel falls far short of that ideal.” The Interviewee – Rabbi David A. Teutsch (Born 1950), Director, Center for Jewish Ethics and Wiener Professor of Contemporary Jewish Civilization, Reconstructionist

David Weinberger, Attorney, L.A

“I feel morally responsible for everything Jews do, including Israel.” The Interviewee – David Weinberger, Attorney, Born in Europe, spent some time in east coast, grew up in OC CA. Now work in LA. In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state

Gordon Fuller, Columbia, Maryland

“Israel is an independent democracy, but as a Jew held accountable in the diaspora I end up with some ‘responsibility’ whatever I think!” The Interviewee – Gordon Fuller, Columbia, Maryland. I’m a “wandering” Jew who is originally from Detroit and found a career as a Jewish

Rabbi Joan Glazer Farber, Co-director of ‘Hevreh’, NY

“I am worried that the continued dominance of the Orthodox rabbinate and challenge of building a peace policy with the Palestinians will continue to push Liberal Jews away.” The Interviewee – Rabbi Joan Glazer Farber (Born 1957), Co-director of ‘Hevreh’: A Community of Adult Jewish Learners.

Abigail Kelman, Managing Partner, Abigail Kelman LC., St. Louis

“I feel that Israel needs to stop being an occupier and act more humanely to the Palestinians while protecting Israel – a tricky but necessary balancing act.” The Interviewee – Abigail Kelman (Born 1956), Managing Partner at the Law Offices of Abigail Kelman LC. Born and

Jonathan Kaplan, Director of Development, Addison-Penzak JCC of Silicon Valley

“I don’t know what Israelis fail to understand about the reality of Jews in the Diaspora, but I suspect many fail to understand that how we are regarded is profoundly affected by what Israel does.” The Interviewee – Jonathan Kaplan, Director of Development for the

Susan Borison, Owner of Your Teen Magazine, Ohio

“Israeli Philharmonic played at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. I was moved by the diversity in the Philharmonic. From bearded percussionists to kippah srugah in the strings and many others made up a diverse group who played HaTikvah and moved the audience to tears.” The

Saul Noah Mangel, Blogger, Florida

“For far too long Jews wondered the globe, being dependent on the goodwill of local rulers who turned on them at a moments notice.” The Interviewee – Saul Noah Mangel (Born 1992), I am a blogger for the Times of Israel. I was born in Philadelphia

Rabbi Scott T. Aaron, Chicago

“It is a fuzzy line sometimes between when Israel acts on behalf of its own citizens or when it acts on behalf of the Jewish people, and Israel is still a young nation by historical standards with lots to work out about its own identity

Melvyn H. Bloom, NYC

“Israel is always under political and verbal attack, if not physical attack. It is all our role to be vigilant and rise to her defense.” The Interviewee – Melvyn H. Bloom (Born 1938), I was born in Chicago, IL. I retired just a few weeks ago

Shari L. Edelstein, Manager of Institutional Development at HIAS, Boulder, Colorado

“Israel wants to be independent, yet it also has expectations from the Jewish diaspora, particularly for funding. I believe that this is shifting and that there is a growing awareness that the relationship can be mutually beneficial.” The Interviewee – Shari L. Edelstein, Manager of

Kielah Tiel Barton, Working in Risk and Fraud, Tel Aviv

“I made the executive decision to uproot all that I know, to move to the unknown. I love this country that is automatically tethered to my spirit. Without this place, how can ones heart beat?” The Interviewee – Kielah Tiel Barton (Born 1989), Working in Risk