A Year of Debate: 5747 in Review (first in a Series)

Jews argued throughout 5747, perhaps more than during any recent year. As individuals and organizations, Jews took on adversaries and perceived adversaries of Israel and Jewry, and — no less vociferously — each other.

Some of the talk only threatened action, such as Israel’s oft-endangered national unity government that held together through the rotation of the premiership, and afterward despite conflicts over the budget and the proposed international Mideast peace conference.

Other talk was in reaction to events. Pope John Paul II was said to be good to the Jews, then bad, then was willing to converse, although to whom was the subject of well-publicized U.S. Jewish in-fighting through most of August. It’s not yet wholly clear what the papal meeting with Jewish delegates finally accomplished.

Still other talk during 5747 was intended to spur action. Diaspora Jewish leaders, asserting themselves in Israel more than ever, successfully lobbied against changing laws that define Jewish identity for purposes of Israeli citizenship. Indeed, the debate over what — or who — defines Jewishness continued to vex the Jewish world.

Many other events took place despite what Jews had to say. More Soviet Jews — 4,696–than at any time over the last five years emigrated in just the first eight months of 1987, but tens of thousands more, perhaps 400,000, wish to join them, and Soviet repression continues against religious and cultural expression.

Of course, the news of the Jewish world concerned far more than all this, as the following month-by-month description demonstrates:

October 1986

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