Diaspora Minister Chikli clarifies: 'I’m not a Conservative Jew'

Even though his father is a Conservative Rabbi Chikli does not identify with the movement, the new Diaspora Minister explained.

 NEW DIASPORA Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli is pledging to invest in ‘strengthening Jewish identity and teaching Hebrew to Jews in the Diaspora.’ (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
NEW DIASPORA Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli is pledging to invest in ‘strengthening Jewish identity and teaching Hebrew to Jews in the Diaspora.’
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli clarified that he is not a member of the Conservative movement and that he did not grow up as a Conservative Jew.

During an event of the Gesher Leadership Institute, Chikli spoke about his family background and his attitude towards Judaism. “I do not come from a Conservative background,” he said on Friday. “There is no such thing as a Conservative Tunisian, but I have a deep acquaintance with Conservative Judaism.”

The 41-year-old is a member of Kibbutz Hanaton, established by the Conservative movement and the Jewish Agency. He is the son of Conservative Rabbi Eitan Chikli, who serves as the president of the Jewish University in Mexico and was a leading rabbi in Israel. He was also a member of the movement’s youth movement, Noam, and attended Camp Ramah.

Most Israeli Conservative Jews are Anglo

Chikli has been trying to explain this element of his Conservative background since he entered politics.

His father isn’t the average Conservative Israeli rabbi, since a large proportion of them are English speakers, mostly Ashkenazi.

Chikli explained to the group that “among the Ashkenazim, the attitude of [Orthodox Israeli intellectual] Yeshayahu Leibowitz prevailed: Either you are religious or you are not. In this respect, the Judaism that came from North America is the Judaism that is most similar to American Judaism,” he said of most Conservative rabbis. “But the Mizrahi attitude of Judaism isn’t considered as such”, Chikli said.

 Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (R) is seen shaking hands with outgoing minister Nachman Shai, at the handover ceremony, in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2023. (credit: DIASPORA AFFAIRS MINISTRY) Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (R) is seen shaking hands with outgoing minister Nachman Shai, at the handover ceremony, in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2023. (credit: DIASPORA AFFAIRS MINISTRY)

Chikli spoke at Gesher’s graduation event. The group was composed of Israeli opinion leaders and decision-makers from all Jewish sectors who visited the US Jewish community to create bridges with it as Israeli leaders. The delegation is part of a joint venture with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

Chikli added during his speech that “there are a lot of Jews in the US who attend public schools and who marry non-Jews.... this means ‘the ceremony is over,’” he said.

According to the minister, “studies of the Land of Israel of Hebrew and the Bible – will preserve the connection between the Jews of the world and Judaism.”