The Los Angeles Jewish Journal recently sat down with Israeli Knesset member Einat Wilf. To say we at JOI were enthralled by her positions on intermarriage, Jewish peoplehood and Jewish identity would be an understatement. For instance, she believes Judaism belongs “to the Jewish people as a whole” and that “all Jews are equal in their Jewishness.” When asked if her marriage to a non-Jewish German impacts her role as a public figure, she responds:
My view is if anyone sees it as a problem, they’ll just have to get used to it. Long before I married, I thought the Jewish world was making a big mistake in counting intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews as minus one, not plus one.
There are few leaders in Israel who are willing to make such bold and provocative statements about their view of intermarriage and the global Jewish community. Wilf believes the future of the Jewish people rests in part on the idea that all Jews – regardless of background – are virtually connected. She notes that many Jews no longer practice and no longer believe, yet still want to belong. “People want to look for other venues – virtual or real – where they can be with other Jews, do things for the Jewish people, for Israel, for the world, and have that be their way of being Jewish.”
While her ideas might seem radical in Israel, to many in the Diaspora it is how we are living our Judaism. We share her philosophy that Judaism and Jewish identity can’t be dictated by any one segment of the Jewish community. Each individual should be allowed to define and practice Judaism in a way that provides value and meaning for themselves. Through her political role and her advocacy for a new definition of Jewish identity, Wilf is helping us move towards creating a truly global Jewish community.
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