WEST ORANGE, NJ – In the aftermath of the July 19 arrest of Conservative Rabbi Dov Haiyun in Haifa for performing a non-Orthodox wedding ceremony, as well as the two resignations from PM Netanyahu’s ministerial committee charged with working on the plan to upgrade the Western Wall’s egalitarian section, the visit of Deputy Minister, MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) to West Orange on Sept. 4 to discuss these divisive issues couldn’t be more timely, according to Rabbi Robert Tobin, spiritual leader of B’nai Shalom in West Orange.
Dr Oren, a former Ambassador of Israel to the United States, will be speaking at B’nai Shalom about “Israel and American Jews: Common Destiny or Separate Path?” This exclusive New Jersey speaking event for the deputy minister will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the synagogue in West Orange.
“MK Oren is in the closest circle of leaders in the Prime Minister’s Office,” said Tobin. "He grew up here and understands the importance of issues like conversion, marriage and legitimacy for all streams of Judaism. But there are very real, and sometimes ugly politics in any coalition.
"This is a critical time and opportunity for the Jewish community throughout northern New Jersey to convey to Deputy Minister Oren our tremendous concern about Israel’s moves further away from religious equality. Are we really okay when a particular Beit Din uses the secular police to arrest a rabbi for leading his own community in his own shul? Yet it also needs to be done with love of our people and our Land. We need every voice in this conversation right now, before things get worse."
Among the issues Tobin said will be addressed with the Deputy Minister are the “dangerous precedent” that was set when the Israeli police interrogated Rabbi Haiyun for what the Orthodox rabbinical court called a “crime” of officiating at a Masorti wedding two years ago, and the possible threat to curtailing egalitarian services at the Robinson’s Arch area of the southern end of the Western Wall. The Chief Rabbi’s recent statements that the entire Western Wall, including the Robinson Arch area, is holy and must conduct services that meet Orthodox standards is an appalling overreach, Tobin said.
In addition, there have been recent developments in American and Israeli politics, which have strained the relationships between some American Jews and the State of Israel as well. The president of Brandeis University recently being detained and interrogated at Ben Gurion Airport for having some Palestinian political papers from a peace conference in his carry-on is a recent example.
“We are honored by Dr Oren’s time and attention, and his willingness to speak with our community, hearing our views,” said Tobin. "But we also need to listen, because the current policies and actions in Israel come from a very strong coalition which represents a legitimate political base in Israel. We need to hear it and not just protest it."
This event will also feature a special performance by The West Point Jewish Choir, a private student reception with Oren at 6:30 pm, and a special reception with Oren for event Patrons at 7 pm. General admission is $36. Admission for high school and college students is $18. Along with having a personal reception with Oren, Patrons will receive preferred seating. It is $180 to become an event Patron.
To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, visit https://www.bnaishalom.net/events.php#oren