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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 13, 2018 ',mlcs wan i Adam Ferziger is a history and contemporary Jewry pro- lessor at Bar-llan University. By Sam Sokol JERUSALEM (JTA)--When Adam Ferziger wants to describe the "deteriorat- ing" relationship between American and Israeli Jews, he reaches back to a 2,000-year- old divide. "To use a metaphor, we have a contemporary Jeru- salem and Babylon kind of dynamic," said Ferziger, a history and contemporary Jewry professor at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, "with two truly significant creative and vibrant Jewish centers developing across the world from each other." Ferziger and others point to polls in recent years showing that not only are American Jews increasingly distanc- ing themselves from both organized Jewish life and the State of Israel, but Israeli Jews are growing less and less interested in the views and opinions of their Diaspora cousins. It is this growing divide that Ferziger said he is trying to mend through the establish- ment of the Impact Center for Research on Judaism in Israel and North America. What is needed, he said, is a "new paradigm" for looking at the Diaspora-Israel rela- tionship, one that he thinks will be best found through Steven M. Cohen is a re- search professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. exploring the distinctions and commonalities of the two divergent forms that Jewish life has taken. His center is only the lat- est addition to a political and academic sector trying to find that new paradigm Its establishment comes on the heels of the inauguration of a similar, though not identi- cal master's program, at Haifa University. The Ruderman Program for American Jew- ish Studies aims to educate Israelis about their North American cousins. It is part of a larger push by the Boston- based Ruderman Family Foundation to reach out to lawmakers, thought leaders and other influencers here. "When we talk about bridging the gaps, often the proposed solutions are to teach American Jews about Israel," said Dvir Assouline, the Ruderman Foundation's advocacy and communica- tions director. Among the foundation's programs are Knesset del- egations that visit the United States for an immersion in American Jewish communal culture. "Over the years, we've exposed MKs from mul- tiple coalitions and opposi- tion parties to the history, challenges and support of the U.S. Jewish community," Assouline said. According to a recent study by the American Jewish Com- mittee, the vast majority of Jews in the United States and Israel believe in the necessity of both a strong Jewish state and a vibrant Diaspora. How- ever, the two communities be- gin to diverge when questions related to the peace process and religious pluralism come into the picture. More significant, nearly 70 percent of Israeli Jews believe it is "not appropriate for American Jews to attempt to influence Israeli policy on such issues as national secu- rity and peace negotiations with the Palestinians." Naftali Bennett, Israel's minister of Diaspora affairs, tends to blame the problem on the assimilation of Jews in the United States, saying his goal is "saving the Jews" there from disappearing. He also sees avast political divide. "What the poll reflects is that Israelis are going more rightward and favoring more traditional Judaism, as op- posed to secularism, whereas American Jewry are more to the left and more liberal," Bennett, who heads the right- wing, mostly Orthodox Jewish Home party, told AJC leaders in Jerusalem this month. "I'm not going to whitewash that, but it shouldn't be the reason for us to fall apart So we don't agree on everything, but we are all Jews, for heaven's sake. We're all one family." For his part, Assouline seems happy that Bar-Ilan University is pursuing a simi- lar program on Israel and the Diaspora. "The more people under- stand the importance of con- necting Israelis to American Jews, the better," he told JTA. "The result, of course, is that we are witnessing more activities in the field and more Israeli leaders who understand the importance of this relationship." Unlike the Haifa program, however, Ferziger said his will primarily focus on religion: "How religion is evolving in Israel, how religion is evolv- ing in North America and the [how the] gap is growing. "There are many, many well-intentioned and super- capable people who are aware of the tensions and gaps and conflicts," he said, "but for the most part what I've seen are two types of reactions: complaining on both sides" or superficial appeals to Jewish unity that gloss over the gaps. Neither approach, Ferziger said, is particularly useful. "The point of departure for this center is that Judaism in Israel and America are already very different and the distinc- tions between them are grow- ing," he said. "Judaism as it's been evolving the last 70 years under a sovereign Jewish state is a very different entity and has unique characteristics to it that are truly foreign to the privatized, voluntaristic, wonderful, rich, intellectually powerful and spiritually broad and sophisticated community in North America. "What has developed in America has certain things that are sui generis and very special and very beautiful, but it is not the same as what's happening in Israel." The Bar-Ilan center will include a multidisciplinary think tank side of the op- eration. That's reminiscent of such organizations as the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, which is affili- ated with the Jewish Agency. Ferziger said the new center alsowill create a generation of leaders through its master's program. The most novel aspect of this undertaking, however, may be what he calls a"framework for actually do- ing hard core negotiation." The center, he elaborates, will also serve as a"backchan- nel" that will bring together leaders from government, religious organizations and other groups "in a completely private, non-publicized type of environment in order to do real-time negotiating, with a caveat that this is unofficial. We are building on existing models from diplomacy for how to move things forward on a real practical level through these types of back- channel environments." Some scholars, such as sociologist Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jew- ish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Insti- tute of Religion and director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, have indicated that while they find such efforts worthwhile, there are major challenges standing in the way of bridging an ever-widening chasm between two vastly different but related cultures. "The challenge is thatthere are deep-seated differences and contexts and identities," Cohen said. He believes that while Jeru- salem's policies have had an impact on perceptions of the Jewish state amongAmerican Jews, "it's still the case that differences in American Jew- ish identity shape American Jews' reactions to Israel more than Israel's actions." What Cohen calls the "dis- tancing" of American Jews from Israel is partially about a divide between American Jewish liberals and Israel's right-wing electorate, but mostly about the growing number of intermarried and unengaged Jews who hardly identify with the Jewish state. The same forces propelling these changes in Ameri- can Jewish self-perception also make creating common ground difficult. However, he adds, it is possible to have an influence by reaching out to elites and opinion makers, although he suggests this may not yield dramatic results. Ferziger said that while he respects Cohen's work, "we have really enslaved so much of Jewish policy to demog- raphy." "I am careful not to draw absolute conclusions based on demography because it can be overly deterministic," he said. "I am an historian, the world is fickle and building too much on polls and census readings is detrimental." In the early 20th century, Ferziger said, the prevailing view based on demography was that Orthodoxy was in decline and the future be- longed to the Reform move- ment. Now, however, you see "Orthodoxtriumphalism" and "the point is that things are unpredictable." In 2013 the Israeli govern- ment announced the forma- tion of a new initiative bring- ing together the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the Jewish Agency (itself a partnership between the government and Diaspora fundraisers) and various American Jewish or- ganizations. It would put bil- lions of dollars into efforts to reach out to Jews abroad and "create a strategic plan for the upcoming 25 years that will include a common vision and more importantly an imple- mentation of new projects for the Jewish people." However, within two years the Jewish Agency had left the project and by 2016 the program, now renamed Mosaic, was coming under fire for giving out grants to primarily, but not exclusively, Orthodox organizations. The program ended up signifi- cantly smaller than originally envisioned. Ferziger acknowledged the challenges facing any attempt to revamp the Israeli-Diaspora relationship but remained upbeat. "In the end of the day no matter what, we are going to succeed because we are going to begin a process of creating a generation of Jewish leaders and thinkers and activists who are knowledgeable," he said. Gur Alroey, who runs the Haifa University program, also believes that Americans and Israelis can think their way to a stronger relationship. "I'm optimistic," he said, "and I believe in education and I believe in long-term learning." Miriam Dubi-Gazan today. By Cnaan Liphshiz AMSTERDAM (JTA)--As a seasoned ghost writer who specializes in biographies, Miriam Dubi-Gazan says there is no such thing as a boring life story. Her attention to detail, creativity and editing skills yield satisfying results even for clients whose resumes are not exactly the stuff of spy novels (think retired bank- ers, plastics manufacturers, midlevel civil servants and family doctors), she says. But Dubi-Gazan's own astonishing life story needs none of the tricks of her trade. Born in 1945 to Jewish parents in a cellar in Amster- dam, where they were hiding from the Nazis, Dubi-Gazan was registered falsely as the daughter of a Nazi collabora- tor without his knowledge. It was part of a daring deceit by the Nazi's own brother--a resistance fighter--to keep her alive. In December, during her first return to her place of birth, Dubi-Gazan, who has lived in Israel since 1962, told JTA that her rescue story dem- onstrates both Dutch society's shame and its glory. At least 75 percent of the country's Jews were mur- dered during the Holocaust-- the highest death rate in occupied Western Europe. Yet alongside widespread collabo- ration there were significant acts of disobedience on a scale unmatched by any other country in Western Europe. The ideological divide be- tween the two men at the center of her own survival sto- ry-Simon Dekker, the Nazi collaborator, and his freedom fighter brother, Ewert--is a microcosm of Dutch society during the occupation. "It shows you how sharply divided Dutch society was," Dubi-Gazan, 73, said of the family of the resistance fight- ers who saved her. "Within the same household you had people working for the Nazis and people who were risking their lives to stop them." In 1941, the Netherlands saw the first mass protests anywhere in Europe over the persecution of Jews. Following the roundup of 457 Jews by Nazis, hundreds of thousands of laborers an- swered the resistance call for a general strike that Febru- ary. Dutch industry ground to a halt for three days. The Germans cracked down on the strikers, killing nine of them and imprisoning hundreds, until the strike was broken by brute force. Underground, the resis- tance was busy hiding thou- sands and helping thousands more to safety. The Netherlands has 5,669 Righteous Among the Na- tions-non-Jews recognized and honored by Israel for hav- ing risked their lives to save Jews. It's by far the highest figure in Western Europe and the second highestworldwide, second only to Poland's 6,863 rescuers. Yet Dutch police and many Miriam DubbGazan (1) civilians unreservedly en- listed to the Nazi project of murdering the Jews of the Netherlands and Europe. Soon after the Nazis in- vaded in 1940, men from the group known as the Hen- neicke Column began hunting Jews for pay. Led by a cabby namedWim Henneicke, some 80 bounty hunters were paid courtesy Dubi-Gazan with her brother in 1945. by authorities 5 guldens for every Jew they brought in-- the equivalent of a week's pay for unskilled laborers. The bounty was later raised to 7.5 and then to 40 gulden. This group alone caught thousands of victims. Anne Frank, the teenager Writer on page 15A