Earlier this week, the Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi (RZA), the umbrella movement for religious Zionism in North America, took the lead in convening 350 Diaspora rabbis and community leaders together to petition the Israeli government to re-open the country’s borders to their communities as expeditiously as possible. Today, they are thanking Israeli leaders for announcing the re-opening of Israel.
The participating Jewish communal leaders come from more than 28 countries across the worldwide Mizrachi movement, including communities in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and the United States, among others. They span the various generations of Jewish communities from the college-campus to the most established of religious institutions.
“The timing of our letter could not be better. We are extremely thankful to Israel’s leaders for taking our message to heart and re-opening the country to our communities,” said RZA Executive Vice President Rabbi Ari Rockoff. “We look forward to visiting Israel and strengthening the bonds between our communities.”
In the letter, which was delivered early Thursday morning to both Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the rabbis and communal leaders expressed recognition and understanding for Israel’s need to maintain safety precautions while also forewarning of the impact that shuttering Israel’s borders will have on the relationship Diaspora Jewry will have with the Jewish State for years to come.
“We represent communities that not only visit Israel but are the source of extremely significant support for our homeland. Many of our members move to Israel, all of our members advocate for Israel with their elected officials, it is the norm that our children study in Israel, and many go on Aliyah and serve in the IDF…” the rabbis wrote in the letter.
According to Rockoff, the significance of the initiative was the widespread support it received in the Jewish community.
“Israel is such a treasured unifier in our community. Our call to ease travel restrictions for Diaspora Jews was welcomed from all corners of the Religious Zionist movement which was absolutely heartwarming,” he added.
The letter acknowledged the understanding and need for rigorous testing protocols and vaccination standards for entry. It also highlighted how many of the communities represented have been at the forefront of vaccinations and are already used to following rigorous PCR testing protocols, masking when medically advised, and quarantine and isolation as prescribed by their local health officials in line with best practices worldwide.