Welcoming the Stranger

The public storm over the interfaith relationship between Yair, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Norwegian girlfriend, Sandar Leikanger, is a perfect example of a lost opportunity. Instead of welcoming the young woman, in Israel of her own choice for studies, into the Jewish community, the response has been one of vocal outrage and insult to the unwitting subject and her Jewish partner.

“If the Jews are a ‘large extended family,’ as we sometimes claim we are, our family just failed spectacularly at the commandment to ‘welcome the stranger,’ writes Paul Golin, JOI’s Associate Executive Director in an Op-Ed piece in this week’s The Jewish Week.

The silver lining in this love story is the teachable moment: Society has changed, will continue to change and protestations are pointless. Instead, if you open your heart and welcome your future sons- and daughter-in law, regardless of background, into your family from the very first meeting, you will help to nurture a relationship of trust and inclusion.


  1. “welcoming the stranger” is one of the most important commandments in the Torah, yet so many people fail to adhere to it. the girl is in Israel on her own accord, not because of pressure from her boyfriend or his family. the public should be thrilled that she has chosen to study there and to deepen her understanding of Judaism, it’s people, and culture instead of throwing a fit over the fact that the Prime Minister’s son is dating a non-Jew. it’s his decision who he ends up with, not ours.

    Comment by h. — March 6, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

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