One hundred and thirty Orthodox Rabbis from forty two countries attended the conference to discuss anti-Semitism and other challenges facing their diverse communities. The annual conference, organized by the World Zionist Organization, this year dealt with the theme of “unity of the Jewish people in times of crisis,” including such issues as assimilation and communal security.
“The unity of the Jewish people in times of crisis is our theme,” said conference organizer Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, who heads the WZO’s Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora.
“We gather in Jerusalem…in order to emphasize the centrality of Israel in the life of Jews in the Diaspora and discuss ways of dealing with the waves of anti-Semitism in the world,” he added.
The conference was opened Isak Haleva, the Chief Rabbi of Turkey alongside Jerusalem city Rabbi Aryeh Stern.
Haleva’s presence is notable given the high level of tension between Israel and Turkey in recent years.
Turkey’s community is known for its policy of studied silence. Despite high profile figures, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, having made statements construed by many as anti-Semitic, the community has dug in and parries all inquiries from the media. Sixty-nine percent of Turks harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, according to a recent ADL poll.
Two of the primary focuses during Monday’s meeting were the security of French Jewry, which has deteriorated severely in recent years with anti-Semitic violence becoming increasingly common, and the challenges, such as assimilation, of living in open western societies.
Speaking at the conference, Bennet -who heads the national religious Bayit Yehudi party, which, according to a recent poll, may secure seventeen Knesset seats in the upcoming election- said that members of the diplomatic corps have been coming to meet with him because their countries “want to figure out who this guy is.”
In a conversation with an Arab diplomatic, Bennett told the assembled Rabbis, he was exhorted to support a Palestinian state and replied by taking down a Bible from his shelf and said that he was not influenced by public opinion on the issue.
“Public opinion isn’t my compass, the Torah is my compass. For three thousand years the land of Israel has belonged to the Jewish people,” he said.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post