Five members of Knesset (MK’s) have been in Pittsburgh for the last day. They came as part of a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel (one of our main overseas partners) and the Jewish Federations of North America in order to expose Israeli lawmakers to Jewish North American life. They visited Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit prior to their arrival in the Burgh.
We held a private meeting with community Rabbis from Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues. It was a frank, open and direct discussion. I think my colleagues who work in the Rabbinate share my feeling that the MK’s learned a ton about our communities, our religious movements (of which they were, in general, highly uninformed), challenges of keeping our next generations Jewish, what we do to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) and the role Israel plays in boosting Jewish identity. At the same time, the fact that we could have Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Rabbis all sitting around one table in Rodef Shalom, the home of the Pittsburgh Platform of Reform Judaism, with a kosher catered meal under the supervision of the Va’ad Harabonim of Pittsburgh was in itself striking to the MK’s. That sense of unity, but not uniformity, is something very special in our town.
The MK’s also attended the Federation’s 2017 Campaign Draft. Over 50 volunteers who take their time to ask other community members for their support of our Campaign attended this draft to choose who they will each speak with this next year. One of the MK’s, Nachman Shai, a friend for many years, commented how impressed he was with the number of people who “toil” for our community.
The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America have sponsored this trip several times and each time, it has this sort of impact on the participants. We are proud that they chose our community to help educate the MK’s. Each MK leaves Pittsburgh with a deeper knowledge about diaspora Jewish communities, an appreciation of what we do every day to strengthen our Jewish community, an understanding about how we strengthen our connections to Israel and Terrible Towels!
Shabbat Shalom! Go Steelers!!!!