RABBI AVI BERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF OU ISRAEL, JOINS PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU AT THE KNESSET TO HAIL LAUNCH OF ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF LETTERS TO TALIA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, listen as OU Israel Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman speaks. Next to the Prime Minster is MK Danny Danon, with Moshe Indig, brother of letter-writer Dov Indig, sitting directly behind. Photo by Moti Abergel
From left: Moshe Indig, brother of Dov Indig; Rabbi Avi Berman, OU Israel Executive Director; Dan Hazony, NCSY Director of Information Systems. Photo by Moti Abergel
When the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, took time in the Knesset Monday to hail the publication in English translation by Gefen of a heart-warming book, Letters to Talia, Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director of OU Israel, was by his side to laud the book as well.
Michtavim Le Talia was published in Hebrew by Gefen in 2005 and has sold more than 50,000 copies. It consists of excerpts from correspondence between Dov Indig, a student in a Hesder Yeshiva, which combines Torah study and military service, with Talia, a high school student from a secular kibbutz in Northern Israel. Talia’s father had suggested that she correspond with Dov, and a thoughtful dialogue developed between them on issues of Judaism and Zionism, values, education, and Jewish life in general. The exchange of letters lasted from 1972 until Dov was killed in the Yom Kippur War on October 7, 1973.
Dov Indig’s brother, Moshe, and mother Miriam (Magdalena) were present in the Knesset as honored guests.
The emphasis in the book on Jewish unity deeply touched Rabbi Berman, who has made frequent use of the Hebrew edition for programs based at the Seymour J. Abrams OU Israel Center. Prime Minister Netanyahu also had an emotional connection to the book because of the loss of his brother Yonatan in the rescue of the Israeli hostages in Entebbe in 1976.
“I’ve met the Prime Minister many times, Jewish unity is a topic very important to him,” said Rabbi Berman. “He is deeply aware of the enormous impact that the OU has on Jewish youth both in North America and Israel – through NCSY, JSU, Birthright, the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, and similar programs -- and so he and the Indig family believe that the book can play an important part in our work.” As a result, Rabbi Berman said, it was no surprise that he was invited to participate in the ceremony marking the book’s launch in English.
Rabbi Berman was one of five speakers, including the Prime Minister. Rabbi Berman delivered the following remarks:
“The Jewish people today face an existential challenge. If we do not bridge the significant gaps that exist within our nation, we will ultimately cease to exist as a nation.
I am honored to serve as the Executive Director here in Israel of the OU -- the Orthodox Union -- an organization that strives to unify the various factions of the Jewish nation. The book, Letters to Talia, is an important instrument that promotes the success of this objective. Therefore we have distributed the book to thousands of youth throughout the country over the past few years.
The youth of North America face pro-Palestinian activists and are frequently exposed to anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli activity. Letters to Talia conveys a clear and moving message of the deep identification of Jews with their nation, and the profound relationship between the nation of Israel and the Land of Israel.
Today is a day of celebration.
The translation of the book enables the OU to make available to tens of thousands of young Jews in high schools and on university campuses across America this essential and vital message. Dov's nature, values and legacy are an inspiration in our activity for the unity of the Israeli nation in Israel and the Diaspora.
May we fulfill the words of the Midrash, and become a nation that stands 'as one man, with one heart.'”
When Rabbi Berman finished speaking, the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara, thanked him for the work of the Orthodox Union. “The Prime Minister is enthusiastic about the OU for all we do around the world and in Israel,” Rabbi Berman said. “He is a big believer in the Jewish future and that the only way we will have a future is to make sure our youth are connected to their heritage, their land, and their people.”
The English translation will make it possible for the OU to make the book available to the wide variety of their programs for high school and college students in North America, Rabbi Berman said.
The host of the meeting was MK Danny Danon, Chairman of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee. Rabbi Berman was joined by Dan Hazony of the NCSY staff, who was present in Israel at the time.
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