Israeli minister attends Shabbat services at NY Conservative synagogue

Yoaz Hendel, who is Orthodox, attended the Sutton Place Synagogue in order to make a point about inclusivity and Israel’s ties with Diaspora Jews of all denominations.

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER and Derech Eretz Party chairman Yoaz Hendel. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER and Derech Eretz Party chairman Yoaz Hendel.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel chose a Conservative synagogue for Shabbat services when he was in New York on Friday.

Hendel, who is Orthodox, attended the Sutton Place Synagogue in Midtown Manhattan in order to inclusivity and Israel’s ties with Diaspora Jews of all denominations. That point, he said on Monday, is important not only for American Jews to hear, but also Israelis.

“I came here on purpose,” Hendel said in his address to the congregation. “As a historian, I am concerned that we are on a precipice. There were divisions within the Jewish people that determined history.”

US and Israeli Jewry cannot split like the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea or like Jerusalem and Babylonia, Hendel said.

“The unity of the Jewish people is important and critical to the future of our people,” he said. “The State of Israel is a home for the entire Jewish people, in all of its variety and streams.”

 Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel speaking at a conference. (credit: Boaz Perelstein Courtesy of the Hartman Institute) Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel speaking at a conference. (credit: Boaz Perelstein Courtesy of the Hartman Institute)

Hendel recounted how he was very interested in Jewish history when growing up in an Orthodox settlement, and knew all about the different sects in the Second Temple era, but that he did not meet Conservative or Reform Jews until he was 21 years old.

“We have to get to know one another and work hard to change direction,” he said.

Hendel encouraged the congregants to make aliyah, to immigrate to Israel, but said that they have a right to help shape Israel’s Jewish character from abroad.

However, he said, when it comes to Israeli policy on matters of national security, “with all due respect, those who serve in Israel and endanger their lives and the lives of their families will decide what risks we take.”