World Jewish Congress

Jewish Unity

The growing division among Jews of different religious streams, among observant and secular Jews, between Israeli and Diaspora Jews, are among most worrying trends threatening the Jewish people today. This is a central priority of the WJC, as the unity of the Jewish people is under unprecedented pressure as a result of a number of factors including but not limited to: a growing gap between Israeli Jews and Jews in the Diaspora generally, and a series of issues forced by the largely-Haredi Israeli Jewish religious establishment. These include the management, administration and control of the religious conversion process in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate and their rejection of alternative models; the suspension of the implementation of the 2016 Agreement to accommodate a pluralistic prayer space at the Kotel; and the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

In this regard, the mission of the World Jewish Congress is to foster the unity and represent the interests of the Jewish people, and to ensure the continuity and development of its religious, spiritual, cultural, and social heritage. The World Jewish Congress seeks, among other things: to enhance solidarity among Jewish communities throughout the world and, recognizing the centrality of the State of Israel to contemporary Jewish identity, to strengthen the bonds of Jewish communities and Jews in the Diaspora with Israel,” and “to encourage and assist the creative development of Jewish social, religious, and cultural life throughout the world.”

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Opinion | My Jewish-Identity Crisis

"I am the embodiment of "the wandering Jew." My family has moved from country to country, picking up the culture and language of each place until finally ending up in Israel—our homeland. I am not from one place in particular; I embody every country my family has lived in. I am my family's history of resilience and strength" writes Jewish on Campus' Chief Marketing Officer Michal Cohen.

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The growing division among Jews of different religious streams, among observant and secular Jews, between Israeli and Diaspora Jews, are among most worrying trends threatening the Jewish people today. Throughout his more than two decades at the helm of world Jewry, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has emphasized the importance of Jewish unity.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, WJC President Lauder has maintained his staunch advocacy for strengthening the bonds of unity between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. He has also remained vocal in his warnings that the Israeli government’s policies vis-à-vis non-Orthodox religious practice, coupled with the ongoing political conflict, is driving away support from Diaspora Jewry, particularly in the United States.

In August 2021, President Lauder published an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post calling on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to “embrace world Jewry and renew its alliance with the Jewish people” and to “recognize the fact that what is happening today at American universities, on American social networks and in Jewish communities around the world is threatening the Zionist enterprise. It is no longer simply a PR problem. It is a danger to Israel’s national security. It is a new and grave existential threat.”

“By its own hand, Israel eroded its longstanding alliance with America — and its cherished covenant with the Jewish Diaspora,” President Lauder wrote. “If Israel does not find its way into the hearts and minds of millennials, Americans and Jews, the crucial American-Israeli alliance will be severely damaged. And if this alliance is thus damaged, Israel will grow weaker and suffer. … Messrs. Bennett and Lapid must do everything within their power to turn this around: rebuild the American-Israeli alliance and the Israeli-Jewish alliance here and now.”

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