Progressively Speaking: Israel’s new government and Progressive Jews

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Progressively Speaking: Israel’s new government and Progressive Jews

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith takes a topical issue and looks at the Progressive response

New Israeli Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett (R), leader of the Yamina right-wing alliance, and Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid opposition centrist party attend first cabinet meeting at the Israeli Parliament (Knesset).
New Israeli Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett (R), leader of the Yamina right-wing alliance, and Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid opposition centrist party attend first cabinet meeting at the Israeli Parliament (Knesset).

Shammai, Jewish teacher par excellence in the first century, gave a sound piece of advice to anyone looking to make a difference: say little but do much (Avot 1:15).

This is what we hope of the new Israeli government formed by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.

The action we need, as always, is one that is consistent with Jewish values as we understand them. 

We need this government to work on the tough task of ensuring no one is left behind in Israeli society, whether Jew or non-Jew.

We need this government to pursue justice and peace so it walks forward with efforts for peace with the Palestinians, inside and outside of Israel, and with the Arab nations that surround the Jewish state.

We celebrate the diversity of this government; its inclusion of so many interests in Israel matches the pluralism that is central to
our Judaism. 

It is time Israel became a country that is hospitable and respectful of all Judaism and not only the narrow interests of strict-Orthodoxy.

It is time for Israel to have a constructive place in government for the 20 percent of its population that is Arab. 

This government may achieve both. We are impressed that the new government rapidly turned rhetoric into action by sharing more thanone million doses of Covid vaccine with the West Bank and Gaza.  

Both Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid understand that the Jewish diaspora matters to Israel as much as Israel matters to the diaspora. 

We journey through the 21st century together and we cannot park our Jewish values when we work with each other: they have to be part of our relationship.  

Mr Lapid gave a moving address at this year’s World Union for Progressive Judaism Conference in May.

He spoke of his own involvement in Israeli Reform Judaism through the Beit Daniel Synagogue in Tel Aviv and was clear that the struggle of Progressive Judaism to build Jewish pluralism in Israel is his struggle too. 

We look forward to today’s Israeli government acting to bring prosperity and progress, Jewish and secular pluralism, peace and mutual respect between Jews and Arabs to our Jewish state.

Mark Goldsmith is Senior Rabbi at Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: