OU Objects to Proposed Ban on Jewish Outreach; Knesset Member’s Bill ‘Outrageous’ OU Leaders Say
The Orthodox Union, which supports major outreach programs in Israel to bring Torah Judaism to unaffiliated youths and adults, today stated its strong objection to legislation introduced in the Knesset by Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz which would ban Jewish outreach educators from approaching and engaging with Israeli youth.
OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb stated:
“We strongly object to a bill proposed by MK Ophir Pines-Paz. Israel is the Jewish state and Israelis should be free to engage each other – even on the street – in discussions about Jewish tradition, observance and heritage. Such engagement is not coercive in a free society – as Mr. Pines-Paz suggests – in fact, it brings Israelis closer together. The bill denies the nature of Israel as a Jewish state. We trust that the Knesset will reject this outrageous proposal.”
Headquartered at the OU’s Seymour J. Abrams Jerusalem World Center, the organization’s outreach (kiruv) efforts include Makom Balev, a youth program which brings inspiring educational and fun programs to both religious and non-religious high school students and to younger teens in more than 25 Israeli cities and development towns. In addition, the OU has introduced its Kehilot Yisrael (Community of Israel) program, to reach out to secular Jews with the theme of “making Israeli Jews Jewish Israelis.”
“These programs have had a major impact,” Mr. Savitsky and Rabbi Weinreb declared. “Attempts to limit kiruv are contrary to Israel’s role as a Jewish state.”