Elliot Abrams, former U.S Deputy National Security Advisor and Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C. delivered the keynote address at B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage on: “Israel and American Jews: A Portrait at 70.”
Speaking at a packed hall, Abrams said: “Your first obligation to world Jewry is to survive and to thrive. But then what? Beyond security issues, to ask the question again: What does it mean to be the center of world Jewish life? What are your goals and what are your responsibilities toward those smaller communities — some of them of course physically safe, as in Canada or Australia or the U.S., and others, from Sweden to France to Argentina, for example, far less safe? You exist as a haven with a law of return. But that is the beginning and not the end, surely, of Israel’s role in the lives of Jewish communities around the world.”
Yair Sherki, Religious Affairs reporter for Israel News Company and winner of the award for broadcast media said in his acceptance speech: “Orthodoxy in America — which constitutes seven to 10 percent of U.S. Jewry — has been ignored in the conversation taking place in Israel on Israel-Diaspora relations. This is the group that is growing at the greatest rate among American Jews and the only group that enjoys positive growth and therefore its importance will grow over time…The encounter with such a different type of Jewish lifestyle intensified the experience for me and even strengthened my own religious identity; this is true for my encounters with the Haredim and regarding encounters with other Jewish streams in the United States, and I hope that this impression was conveyed to my viewers.”
Amotz Asa-El, senior editor for the Jerusalem Report and winner for print media said: “The new [Jewish] dispersion — that which will dwarf in the shadow of the growing Israel center — will demand an innovative approach by the State of Israel. Israel will have to nurture this new dispersion, not only as a strategic source but also as an engine for co-existence between the Jewish People and all of humanity; co-existence that will prove to Israelis that 'A people who dwells alone' is not a predestination and definitely not an ideal.”
A Certificate of Merit in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky was conferred on Benny Teitelbaum, Jewish World correspondent at the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan). He noted that: “Consistent coverage of world Jewry raises questions about the unity of the Jewish people, what our connection to them is all about, what does it mean to be Jewish, why are they important — all kind of questions that the secular Tel Aviv press does not like to ask itself.”
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations in the Israeli print, broadcast and online media. The award is widely recognized as the most prestigious prize in the Israeli media industry for Diaspora reportage and was established to help strengthen the relations between Israel and the Diaspora by encouraging quality reporting on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations.
The distinguished members of the award jury are: professor Yehudit Auerbach, School of Communications, Bar Ilan University; professor Sergio DellaPergola, the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University; Ambassador Sallai Meridor, international chairman, Jerusalem Foundation, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, former chairman of the Zionist Executive and Jewish Agency; professor Gabriela Shalev, Higher Academic Council, Ono Academic College and former Israel ambassador to the U.N.; Yair Sheleg, columnist; and Asher Weill, publisher and editor of ARIEL-The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981-2003.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf and his wife Hilda. Wolf was an editor of the World Center’s journal “Leadership Briefing” and a journalist in Israel and Australia. Hilda was a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel. The award is made possible through donations from the Matsdorf family and B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem board member Daniel Schydlowsky.
For further information please contact Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center, Jerusalem at 972-52-5536441.