For those who don’t know, we started a petition last week to counter the efforts of American liberal Jews to force changes upon Israeli Jewry at the Holy Western Wall in Jerusalem. Thousands of people across America and even around the world have already stepped forward to join us.

If you are one of those receiving this email as a result, welcome! I am pleased to send you this monthly update on the petition and the other activities of the Coalition for Jewish Values (to stop receiving these, please send a blank email to [email protected]). Please see our website to learn more about us.

Everyone is encouraged to both sign and share our petition via email and social media. If you have signed, please remember that every family member also counts; if all members of your family sign, and others do likewise, we will have tens of thousands of signatures almost immediately.

For further information about this issue, please see Rabbi Lerner’s open letter. This was written to enable you both to learn more, and to easily copy the letter into an email and share with friends, family and colleagues.

Why are prayer facilities at the Western Wall an important issue for the CJV, an American public policy organization? Our answer is that not only does this concern us due to our deep connections to our holy sites in the Holy Land, but because this is a matter of American liberal Jews interfering in Israel’s religious affairs — and misusing the conflict to tarnish Israel’s reputation here in America.

We also have expertise in the conflict, with which Rabbi Lerner and I, in particular, have been actively involved for several years. Am Echad (One Nation), a multi-organization coalition led by Agudath Israel, is organizing a mission to Israel later this month; several CJV officers will be going, and I was tapped to write a briefing document for Israeli government officials contrasting the demands of liberal Jewish leaders with the reality of Jewish life in America.

In Other News:

This has also been, as the subject line suggests, an extremely fruitful month in terms of developing contacts in Washington. Not only did we have in-person and phone meetings with several caucus groups and congressional offices, but we were asked to make a short statement on religious liberty, our document regarding abortion reached a variety of pro-life and values-oriented groups, and we engaged in our first lobbying effort: a letter to Senators regarding an effort to limit late-term abortions which passed the House, but sadly did not succeed in the Senate.

There are a number of people who work in Washington who are observant or at least know our values. One such individual received a copy of our statement on abortion from a Christian involved with this issue, who was excited to share it and to inquire about us. The recipient later recounted immediately thinking to tell the sender to ignore it, not open it and/or not to believe anything it said before they had a chance to discuss the matter — because not only is it routine to see statements from Jewish organizations which contradict authentic Jewish values, but there has been essentially no Jewish voice saying otherwise. That, of course, was before reading our statement. To me, that story neatly encapsulates why the CJV is so needed.

Notable Coverage:

The media continues to pay increasing attention to the CJV — both in terms of covering our statements, and soliciting our opinion on news items.

Our objection to the re-nomination of LGBT activist Chai Feldblum to the EEOC reached Breitbart News, which is an extremely well-read right wing journal. The Forward also covered our release, as part of an article that provided multiple views on the re-nomination — so we affected coverage both on the right and left about this story.

The JNS counted us among the “major Jewish organizations” that back Israel’s BDS ban. The Media Line, an English-language news organization in Israel, asked our opinion on the (Israel) Supreme Count hearings about the Western Wall — and we responded while also connecting the writer with Leah Aharoni of the Women FOR the Wall, a pro-tradition group, helping the traditional perspective to be reported in greater depth. Hamodia sought our opinion on that issue as well, and we have become a frequent provider of news items for Israel National News.

Just yesterday, the Courthouse News Service covered the Amicus Curae brief filed by the Jews for Religious Liberty and ourselves on behalf of a Boca Raton Chabad center. Four of our officers are listed personally on the Amicus as well.

Press Releases:

Petition Aims to Refute Reform Claims in Israel, Jan. 18
Statement on Vice President Pence Knesset Address, Jan. 22
Rabbis Defend Pence Tweet, Jan. 30

If you have not seen it already, I encourage you to read (and share) the last of these press releases. Many in our community were outraged that Jews would attack the Vice President for describing post-Holocaust Jewry exactly as Israelis do. This was a case where we used our rabbinic credentials to good effect, and our statement was well-received at the White House.

Op-Eds and Letters:

Envy Isn’t Jewish
Rabbi Yaakov Menken in the Times of Israel, Jan. 4
How Indeed Do You Defend Yourself From a Smear Campaign Alleging That You Are Stupid or Unstable?
Rabbi Dov Fischer in The American Spectator, Jan. 8
Political Theater at the Kotel
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Letter to The NY Jewish Week, Jan. 10
Phony Kotel Issue
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Letter to The NY Jewish Week, Jan. 17

The fact that the NY Jewish Week, whose editorials often run contrary to our views, would nonetheless print both of our letters likely speaks to our growing prominence. Our views, your views, are heard where there was formerly silence.

All of this happens due to the support of people like you who share our values and goals, and who believe we offer an important perspective that must be heard. So I close with an appeal for your support to continue and grow the CJV.

Wishing a good Shabbos to our Jewish readers, and a good weekend to all!

Yaakov Menken

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