Jewish Communities Struggle With Divisions Over Mideast Peace

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Newton's Temple Avodah had been scheduled to host a conversation with the president of the progressive Jewish lobbying group J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, on Thursday. But after a strong response by some members of its congregation, the reform synagogue canceled the event.

J Street bills itself as "the home of the pro-Israel pro-peace movement" and has ignited some controversy in Jewish communities across the country for its views on Middle East policy.

Rabbi Keith Stern of Temple Avodah wasn't available to discuss his temple's decision to cancel the J Street speaker. But the temple did provide a letter it sent to its congregation on Wednesday. It read, in part:

"In recent days, a number of congregants expressed deep concern and disapproval about the congregation hosting and presenting this program. The Temple’s leadership met over the weekend and decided to vet the issue more thoroughly. Accordingly, the Temple withdrew its invitation to take the opportunity to have such discussion. Controversy is a reality in any group of thoughtful people with legitimate differences of opinions on politics. We wanted to make sure you were informed of these events."

Although Temple Avodah canceled the event, Ben-Ami will still speak Thursday night at the Memorial-Spaulding Elementary School in Newton. But the cancelation decision has stirred controversy in the local Jewish community.


  • Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street
  • Jeff Robins, former U.S. delegate to the U.N. Council on Human Rights

This segment aired on November 18, 2010.


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