On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA)—located on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)— welcomed Ambassador Dani Dayan, the Consul General of Israel representing the State of Israel to communities from throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Delaware. The Ambassador came to The Marcus Center to engage in conversation with faculty, students, and staff on the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community.
The Consul General discussed his views on number of controversial topics that concern both American Jewry and Israel, such as religious pluralism, egalitarianism, and the Western Wall agreement, along with the political situation in the Middle East.
Ambassador Dayan spoke candidly about his vision for Israel, while listening to the questions and concerns of those gathered. During a spirited exchange of views, the ambassador heard from several members of the HUC-JIR community who voiced significant concerns over the lack of a more pluralistic approach to enacting policy. In June of 2017, the Israeli government formally froze the January 2016 Western Wall resolution to create a mandated egalitarian section at the Wall. The Reform and Conservative movements both in Israel and the Diaspora have strongly repudiated the move, saying that its defeat leaves their expressions of Judaism still unrecognized by the State of Israel.
During the discussion, Dayan said that America’s Jewish community should work to strengthen its institutional efforts to influence the State of Israel on this and other policy matters. He encouraged the formation of new lobbying groups and said that the continuation of robust dialogue between American Jews and Israeli leaders was essential to effect change.
“The AJA takes great pride in making it possible for the future leaders of American Judaism and future scholars to have an opportunity to discuss the important issues of the day,” said Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of American Jewish Archives and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. “These are urgent concerns that face our community and its relationship to the State of Israel.”
Ambassador Dayan told the group that he wanted to come to Cincinnati first to visit HUC-JIR and the AJA because of the College-Institute’s reputation and its history. “This, after all, is where to come to study the whole of the American Jewish experience,” added Dr. Zola. After the lunchtime meeting with the HUC-JIR community, Dr. Zola provided Consul General Dayan with a tour of The Marcus Center and the College-Institute. According to Professor Zola, “Mr. Dayan and his entourage were moved and profoundly impressed by the AJA’s holdings as well as HUC-JIR’s rich array of academic resources.”
Prior to his appointment as ambassador in August of 2016, Dayan served as Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria from July 2007 until January 2013. During his tenure there, he successfully instituted multiple reforms and policy changes to strengthen the image of the organization and advocate on behalf of its 400,000 citizens.