Maof

Maof

MAOF is a program that embodies its acronym which is Masoret/traditions, Arachim/values and politics. MAOF believes that the more people are exposed to a more tolerant discourse, rooted in the Jewish social tradition, the more we will be able to overcome the societal polarization and extremist discourse that characterizes Israeli society today. To this end, the MAOF Program provides parliamentary advisors the opportunity to infuse the Jewish and democratic State of Israel with moderate Jewish values within the Knesset.

In partnership with the Posen Foundation, the goal of MAOF is to influence and infuse Jewish culture and more broadly the public discourse in the Knesset with the values of social justice, social responsibility, equality, tolerance for the “other,” and human rights; and to impact and change policy to reflect these values.

The MAOF program engages the parliamentary advisors with a wide spectrum of Jewish identities and voices, values and perspectives. The MAOF program recognizes that parliamentary advisors are in a unique position in the Knesset to influence legislation, plenary discussions, and setting the public agenda. This program gives them the necessary tools, content and knowledge base in social Jewish values to infuse their daily parliamentary work leading to significant social change in Israeli society.

By working with parliamentary advisors, MAOF empowers future legislators, or individuals who will work in other influential positions that impact upon public discourse on issues such as poverty, center-periphery relations, equal opportunity, economic justice, religious coercion, Jewish pluralism, human rights, etc.

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Last year the MAOF program began working with parliamentary advisors in the Knesset from a variety of political parties including: Kulanu, Yesh Atid, HaMachaneh HaTzioni, Meretz, Likud, and Yisrael Beitenu. Participants come from a wide spectrum of political, religious and cultural backgrounds, including: Masorti, Orthodox, secular, Reform, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, Russian, men and women, and one member of the LGBTQ community. MAOF encourages parliamentary advisors to respect difference and find points of similarities to their own experience in the diverse range of Jewish identities. As a result, they create a shared language based on mutual respect for difference that is rooted in Jewish texts, so that they can collaborate with each other toward a more cohesive, tolerant Knesset environment that ultimately will reverberate into the public sphere.

This enables the parliamentary advisors to implement social Jewish values in their daily work in the Knesset, influencing the Knesset members with whom they work, and ultimately, affecting the discourse (and legislation) in the Knesset and more broadly in the public sphere.

In MAOF Jewish learning sessions that occur over 10 meetings that are 4 hours each, MAOF invites guest speakers to expound upon what unites us, and the connection between Jewish social values and our daily activities. In 2017, the MAOF program included 9 parliamentary advisors who engaged with Jewish texts based on the tolerant teachings of the Sephardic sages and Jewish culture. The parliamentary advisors can use the rich resource of Hachacham Hayomi to address various complex social issues ranging from: the heterogeneity of Israeli society; mapping Israeli society’s groups and minorities; gender issues; Jewish identity in a changing world; BDS and antisemitism on campuses; the manner in which Israel’s educational system is fragmented into separate ideological and religious Streams; the compatibility of Judaism and democracy in the Israeli political and legal system; and social responsibility as a Jewish Value.

Shimon Malka, a political strategist, works with the group on political strategies on how to work together on mutual initiatives, how to maneuver within the Knesset, and how to advocate for certain issues among the Knesset members with whom they work.

The course will culminate in a trip to Paris where participants met will meet with members of the French Parliament to learn about the political foundations of France’s democracy, the separation of religion and State, and the history of Alliance-Kol Israel Haverim. In 2017-2018, we will be adding a new component to the program, including a first trip to New York in partnership with the UJA Federation NY, where the participants will be exposed to pluralistic Jewish identities and communities to enhance their understanding and deepen their connection with North American Jewry.

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Parliamentary advisors felt that the MAOF program inspired a dramatic change in their perspectives and ways of thinking. “The monthly learning sessions over the course of the year opened up my thinking to new directions. This newfound Jewish knowledge from monthly learning sessions over the course of the year led me to formulate stronger views that will impact on my daily agenda. Our trip to Paris, learning about Judaism and democracy, was extremely helpful in better understanding the lives of Jews in the Diaspora. I learned so much from the Jewish youth we met; the idealistic students we learned with; the leaders in the Jewish community; representatives of Alliance; and French politicians; who shed light on the power of democracy and religious freedom. I hope that the process that I went through will be offered to many more people like me, since there is great potential here to bring about real and lasting change in Israeli society and in its leadership.” Elad Lovitz, graduate of the first year MAOF Program, Advocate and parliamentary advisor to Knesset member, Elazar Stern, of the Yesh Atid party

Our committed partners include: Adelis Foundation, Posen Foundation,  UJA - Federation of New York.