Chanukah is a time when we can truly celebrate all of the light that our congregations and programs are bringing to Israel. From Kehillat “Birkat Shalom” in Kibbutz Gezer, who held a special program for Olim from South Africa in Ramleh, creating mosaic hanukiyot (menorahs), to the Chanukah market in Kibbutz Lotan, held in partnership with Keren b’Kavod, and Candle lighting at Congregation “Ma’alot Tivon” in Kiryat Tivon with residents of the “Kfar Tikvah” senior living facility, these congregations and programs bring to life the miracle of Chanukah in its modern form, spreading light across Israel.
Just before Chanukah, we were afforded the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the light of Jewish Peoplehood at the URJ Biennial. In attendance at this year’s Biennial was the largest ever Israeli delegation, and the greatest attention to Israel-related matters in Biennial history. In his Shabbat D’Var Torah, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs mentioned our mutual pride in the growth of the Israeli Reform Movement; as a recent poll showed, 7% of Israelis now identify most with Reform Judaism, doubling our presence in the past five years and bringing our values to every corner of Israeli society. Also in his remarks, Rabbi Jacobs pledged that over the next two years, the North American Reform Movement will invest more in Reform Judaism in Israel. We are grateful for the support and look forward to working with our partners around the world towards a more pluralistic and democratic Israel.
It is on that note that I invite you to take part in a celebration of Reform Judaism in Israel at our 23rd IMPJ Biennial, taking place June 1-2, 2018. This year we will be expanding our international track and look forward to sharing this joyous occasion with you.
The Festivals of Light may be coming to a close, however we will continue the illumination of religious pluralism in Israel. The road is long, but the opportunity is great. The Promised Land is not reached in a day, but when it is, another miracle takes place.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv