Magazine

Questionnaire: Healing the people

House of Study and center for Jewish social activism, Memizrach Shemesh, cultivates leaders and trains activists who are dedicated to the values of social action rooted in all Jewish traditions.

Eli Bareket
Photo by: Courtesy
What issue gets you out of bed in the morning?
Waking up a Masorti Jew and knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of Israelis seeking a middle path, an open and accepting Judaism that respects tradition.

This Judaism can help to mend the divisive relationship between religious and secular in Israeli society.

What issue keeps you up at night?
Seeing young Israelis who do not believe in themselves and [do] not realize the important role that they can have within society.

What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?
After what happened with [the fraud scandal involving US businessman Bernard L. Madoff], one of the most profound challenges for Jewish nonprofits in Israel has been dealing with budget cuts. We do important work, and like other organizations, we were affected.

Why do you do what you do?
Our work is important because it provides a way to heal the people of Israel.

If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would reorganize the division of local authorities, particularly as it pertains to revenues, so that peripheral cities such as Dimona would benefit from the profits of more wealthy areas – it is one way to strengthen communities in the periphery.

Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?
My father and my mother – for me they are the model of the new Israelis.

What would you change about Israelis if you could?
I would change that feeling that Israelis have (which maybe comes from the promise to Abraham) that they own whatever they set foot on.

iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper?
Paint and brush.

If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
A student, graduate of one of Memizrach Shemesh’s programs with NYU Hillel, once said, “I feel closer to Israel now that I know about the social inequalities here. I want to stay involved and come back.” Dealing with those issues rather than hiding reality is a key to enticing young Jewish people to come to Israel.

What is the most serious problem facing the country?
The security situation makes it difficult for us to concentrate and deal with other problems, namely social inequalities and other social problems.

How can it be solved?
We can try to deal with the social problems through education and social organizing.

In 20 years, the country will be:
In the same place, I hope, but without so many gaps.

Eli Bareket
Age: 42
Profession: Jewish Educator
Current residence: Jerusalem


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