President Rivlin addresses the JFNA General Assembly. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

The Israeli president called for Jewish unity while trying to sooth anger over the repeal of the Western Wall deal.

In a major address to the North American Jewish community, President Reuven Rivlin tried to diffuse the current tensions between the Israeli government and Diaspora Jewry on the issue of the Western Wall.  Addressing the General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Los Angeles, Rivlin told the thousands of representatives from Jewish communities across North America, “The State of Israel was, and will always be, the home of every Jew; Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional, Ashkenazi, Sephardi. We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us.”

Many delegates at the GA are greatly disappointed in Israel’s decision to suspend an agreement permitting an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.  Rivlin did not openly oppose government policy, but he did say that “in the future we can return to the table together to try to teach understanding.”

“Israel is the most daring enterprise in the history of the Jewish People. The Jews of the Diaspora, especially in North America, are full partners – not only in the establishment of Israel, but also in its development. You are true stakeholders in this wonder called Israel. You stand beside us at times of crisis and joy. You dream with us. You challenge us. You help keep us strong and we are strong,” he stated.

Rivlin noted that he was at the GA to underscore that this unity and cooperation cannot be taken for granted.

“We thank you for this sense of family. For your unconditional support and love. For your consistent message that ‘we Jews stick together’, that ‘all Jews are responsible for one another’. In this, we have a lot to learn from you – that is the truth,” Rivlin told the gathering.

We All Share the Responsibility

“The Jewish People must be based on one simple demand: mutual responsibility. A commitment to the security and the well-being of all our people. This commitment, must be stronger than any disagreements. We have the challenge of establishing our relationship as a value: a value that is above any argument,” the president said.

“The challenge of building the relationship between us must begin with getting to know each other better. Sometimes the way to become closer is to recognize the differences, understand the different points of view,” he added. “We still have a way to go.”

Rivlin praised the commitment of the Jewish community to Israel, saying, “You have real, positive, and effective impact on the Israeli system and society. We have built strong channels of cooperation on strategic issues. You have great impact on the Israeli agenda. I ask you, don’t stop. As part of the challenge of building the relationship between us, we need to create an honest and open dialogue between the sides, this is our only way to move forward.”

On the issue of education and promoting a positive Jewish identity among the next generation, Rivlin said, “We all share the responsibility to keep Jewish identity and the Hebrew language, and to pass it from one generation to the next. This is a hard challenge in Israel – it is even harder in the Diaspora. I must express my great admiration for everything you are doing. For you, ensuring the Jewish identity of your children is a lifetime effort. In this too, we have much to learn from your commitment.”

“These are the tasks before us; the fight against anti-Semitism; preserving Jewish identity; safeguarding the security of Israel. We must continue to pass these duties to our children and grandchildren, from one generation to the next,” the president reiterated.