Israel is open to all denominations of Judaism, Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Jewish leaders in New York when he met with them on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“We are one family,” he said. “You are my brothers and sisters. The Israeli government accepts all denominations of Judaism. The special relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora is at the forefront of our minds, and we will prove it to you. Israel must be and will be an open home for all Jews.”
"Israel must be and will be an open home for all Jews"Prime Minister Yair Lapid
Lapid reassures American Jewry ahead of UNGA
In the meeting with representatives of 50 Jewish organizations at the office of the United Jewish Appeal in New York,
Lapid underscored the importance of maintaining strong Israeli ties with American Jewry.
The Jewish leaders reciprocated the love, effusively in the room, and later in a more restrained manner in a joint statement of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America.
“We were honored to meet with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and grateful that he prioritized meeting with leaders of the North American Jewish Community on the day before his address to the United Nations General Assembly,” the statement said.
“In our meeting, we discussed important issues such as rising antisemitism around the world and the threat of Iran, about which we are mutually very concerned. We are heartened by his shared commitment to strengthen Israel-Diaspora relations, and look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Israeli government on issues of common importance with the North American Jewish community.”
Lapid alluded to Benjamin Netanyahu only once, people inside the room said, but he didn’t need to because the contrast was sharp. Netanyahu, acceding to pressure from haredi parties, had reneged on agreements to expand the right to non-Orthodox practice and worship in Israel, priorities for many American Jewish leaders.
Lapid did not make specific commitments except to investigate complaints from those present, but he distinguished himself from Netanyahu by listening and not lecturing, according to one participant.
“The big difference is that Bibi would take two questions and basically just give his spiel,” said the participant, speaking anonymously because the event was off the record. “And Lapid took 10 questions and actually answered them and was engaged.”
Participants compare Lapid to Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu, who was raised in the US, also grated on his American Jewish interlocutors by coming across as believing he was more knowledgeable than they were on the ins and outs of Washington, the participant said.
“He’s not this imperial prime minister who knows more about America than American Jews,” the participant said of Lapid. “It very much was a conversation, and was much more engaging in any given take than anyone got from Netanyahu.”
Sheila Katz, National Council for Jewish Women CEO, would not comment on specifics, nor would she address differences between Lapid and Netanyahu, but she said she was impressed by Lapid’s commitment to diversity and to reaching out to all Americans.
“He shared a lot about his hope to do even more to bring people together,” Katz said. “And I felt like that was a theme that I heard loud and clear.”
Lapid’s sole reference to Netanyahu was a joke and didn’t use his name.
“I don’t want to speak negatively of a former prime minister,” Lapid said, then paused to correct himself: “I actually do want to.”
A participant told him the session was off the record and encouraged him to speak frankly.Lapid said, “Off the record, with 50 Jews?”