Haaretz held its second Judaism, Israel and Diaspora conference Wednesday. The conference, taking place online from Haaretz’s newsroom studio in Tel Aviv, was opened by President Reuven Rivlin. The conference took place in partnership with the Jewish Agency, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Ruderman Family Foundation. The broadcast coincides with the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and the conference’s mission statement is “from Tikkun Shavuot to Tikkun Olam.”
Watch it below and find the full schedule here.
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Due to coronavirus restrictions, Haaretz’s Judaism, Israel and Diaspora conference, which was held last year in Jerusalem’s International Conference Center, was held this year virtually. The digital nature of this year's event has allowed a wide participation of speakers from across the Diaspora, including the U.S., Britain and France.
The program too was influenced by the pandemic, with panels discussing how Covid-19 has affected Israeli society, the Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the ways they interact. The conference also asks: what is Israel’s duty towards these communities at this time.
In his opening remarks, President Rivlin said that keeping state of emergency policies in place as Israel slowly returns to the normalcy lost over the coronavirus crisis would be dangerous.
“Israeli society excels at contending with states of emergency: It rises to the occasion, comes to grips, takes part,” he said. “But, overtime, as our routine life is restored, a policy of a state of emergency is dangerous.”
The strick regulations needed during a time of emergency, Rivlin continued, “cannot come in the stead of the laws we achieve through orderly democratic debate.” According to the president, “True social strength cannot rely on a constant sense of transience, of doubt, of threat. When the day comes, we will have to again ask ourselves how we can live here together, how to resume, and to repair.”
Among the speakers will be Israel’s new Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Omer Yankelevich, in her first appearance since being appointed to the post. Other prominent speakers include U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, who will speak about the challenges now facing the Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and the relationship between them.
Representatives of the conference’s partners will also speak, including Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, Shira and Jay Ruderman, founders of the Ruderman Family Foundation, and President Asher Cohen and Chancellor Menahem Ben-Sasson of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Other speakers include French philosopher Bernard-Henry Lévy; senior Rabbi of Reform Judaism in Britain Laura Janner-Klausner; founder of the 929 daily Bible study project, Rabbi Benny Lau; dean of the Hebrew University’s School of Social Work, Prof. Mona Khoury-Kassabri; and director of Hadassah Mount Scopus Medical Center Dr. Tamar Elram.