Jewish Agency chairman-elect attends Reform conference; politicians react

Former IDF general Doron Almog was appointed as chairman of the Jewish Agency on Thursday, June 16th, 2022. The following weekend, Almog attended a convention held by the Reform Movement in Israel, where he described his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah ceremony, held at a Reform synagogue.

As the video of the speech circulated online, ultra-Orthodox MKs blasted Almog’s participation in the conference, while politicians from the Labor party, who attended the conference themselves, praised Almog and the conference.

MK Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism)

Doron Almog’s attempt to curry favor with the liberal and Reform movements is shameful and distressing. The Reform are trying every possible way to penetrate and influence the State of Israel, after their historic failure in the Reform communities in the United States, which have a 70% rate of assimilation. I call on Almog to disavow his words and his attempt to curry favor with those who are against him and against the right of the Jewish people to exist in its land.

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor):

We were glad to host the chairman-elect of the Jewish Agency at the final plenum of the conference of the Reform Movement in Israel, his first appearance since his selection. The Jewish Agency has a crucial role in advancing Jewish pluralism and mutual respect among various streams, and I am sure that Doron Almog will strengthen this trend and bring it to new heights. My dear Doron, good luck!

(MK Gilad Kariv and Doron Almog. Courtesy of Gilad Kariv, Twitter)

MK Moshe Arbel (Shas):

Doron Almog’s quick and extraneous flattery of the Reform Movement shows that he is not worthy of his new position. Unfortunately, instead of being a stately, unifying actor he has chosen division.

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai (Labor) tweeted in Hebrew and in English:  

We will continue to work for an open, liberal and egalitarian Israel for all!

Tonight I gave an address to the 1,500 participants of the biannual conference of the Reform Movement in Israel.

My colleagues and I in the Labor Party will continue to fight for a pluralistic and diverse Israel. This is the journey we have embarked on-is [sic] just beginning,together [sic] we will win. Thank you to the leadership of the movement in Israel and around the worldfor [sic] their all their advocacy and activities, including this conference. Shavoua Tov.

The next day, on June 19th, Almog released the following statement:

I received a Jewish education in which the most holy thing was the Land of Israel, the State of Israel, the people of Israel, and the tradition of Israel.

Nitzan, our daughter, chose to be called up to the Torah at age 12, 31 years ago, because her brother, Eran, could not, having been born with severe disabilities.

No one in our family has belonged or currently belongs to a Reform community, nor is it my intention to join a Reform community or any other community.

I came to unite. We are all brothers. Division is what led to the fall of the First and Second Temples. We must not give up on any Jew. The Jewish Agency under my leadership will focus on issues that unite and that are common to the entire Jewish people. 

Shavua tov,

Doron Almog