Who will represent Anglos, Diaspora Jewry in the new Knesset?

Here are 10 candidates to take that mantle and serve as the Congressman in the Knesset of Jerusalem Post readers

THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh attended her last Knesset committee meeting on Thursday, ahead of Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset.
Cotler-Wunsh said she made a point of considering the needs of Diaspora Jewry and immigrants to Israel in every committee meeting and every vote, and expressed concern that MKs of the new Knesset would not have similar priorities.
“The first advice I would give them is how important it is,” she said. “These issues are fundamental to the continued existence of the State of Israel. After having championed the challenges of olim and the Diaspora in every committee, I don’t know if I can name anyone who understands the fundamentals of looking at our relationship with Diaspora Jewry and the needs of immigrants who left their families behind.”
While none of the MKs elected to the new Knesset was raised in an English-speaking country like Cotler-Wunsh was, many have strong backgrounds in Diaspora Affairs and have pledged to help native English speakers in Israel. The following (in alphabetical order) are 10 candidates to take that mantle and serve as the “congressman” in the Knesset of Jerusalem Post readers:
Naftali Bennett (Yamina): A former minister of Diaspora Affairs, he says the future of Diaspora Jewry is what keeps him up at night. He advanced religious pluralism at the Western Wall. His parents made aliyah from San Francisco before he was born. His mother, Myrna, was deputy director-general of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel’s northern branch. He lived in New York for five years when he built his hi-tech company.

David Bitan (Likud):
He chaired the outgoing Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, where he was praised for his work on issues that matter to Diaspora Jewry including conversion, religious pluralism and problems integrating immigrants from Ethiopia. Before that he chaired the Jewish People’s Caucus in the Knesset and went on seven trips abroad to Jewish communities organized by the Jewish Agency.
Michael Biton (Blue and White): Lived in the US after his army service. Directed the United Israel Appeal (Canada) and Jewish Agency Beersheba Region. As mayor of Yerucham, he advanced his city’s partnership with Miami via the Agency. His wife, Ilana, is the daughter of a Conservative rabbi and has led a Hartman Institute program in Jewish pluralistic learning.
Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud): Well versed in issues of religious pluralism, he negotiated the Western Wall agreement on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the pandemic, an appeals committee he headed helped hundreds of family members of immigrants enter Israel. His wife and children are native English speakers.
Sharren Haskel (New Hope): She was born in Toronto and lived in Australia, where she earned a veterinary degree. As an MK, she has championed Diaspora affairs and became the MK most sent abroad by the Knesset to defend Israel in inter-parliamentary events. She chaired the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus in the outgoing parliament.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv (Labor): Director of the Reform Movement in Israel for many years, he is committed to using his post as an MK not only to advance religious pluralism but also to represent the Diaspora and English speakers in Israel, regardless of religious affiliation. He vowed to be the emissary of world Jewry in the Knesset.

Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism):
Born in Jerusalem to immigrants from Cleveland and Boston, he had to renounce his American citizenship when he entered the Knesset. Since then, he has been the voice of English-speaking haredim (ultra-Orthodox) in the Knesset, helping countless English speakers in Israel and abroad during the pandemic.

Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party):
He earned his law  degree in the joint program of Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University in Israel and Chicago, and has family in the US, Canada and Australia. With a native English-speaking wife and children, he says he “feels at home in the Anglo community,” and wants to be the address of English speakers in Israel.
Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid): Focuses on religion and state and advancing tolerant Modern Orthodoxy on issues like the status of women, conversion, Shabbat and kashrut, which has made him a sought after lecturer to Diaspora communities in Israel and organizations abroad. He is one of Yesh Atid’s main voices to English speakers in Israel.
Tamar Zandberg (Meretz): She has been active in the Women of the Wall group and comes to their monthly Rosh Hodesh services at the Western Wall wearing a colorful tallit (prayer shawl), which is prominently displayed in her office. She called Meretz the voice of the Jewish Diaspora and religious pluralism in Israel, and said relations with the Jewish world are important to her.